This was a celebration of a legacy affirmed. Jimmy Rollins, wife at his side, waltzed into the basement of Citizens Bank Park for a news conference, and the dozens of front-office officials clapped Monday evening before they rode the elevator upstairs for the team's annual holiday party.
They all expected this day, even Rollins. For 15 years, Rollins has been a Phillie. Four more catapult him into heady territory, when record books are rewritten and lofty labels applied.
"In this day and age, it's unusual," a proud team president David Montgomery said. "But it's not impossible that someone plays their whole career in one place."
Rollins officially took a major step in being a Phillie for life when the team announced his new three-year, $33 million contract. Rollins, 33, represented the team's best option at shortstop. Staying in Philadelphia provides Rollins with the comfort to think in bigger terms beyond age 36.
"Maybe," Rollins said, "we'll have another conference to wrap up the rest of my career."
This deal is essentially for four years. The $11 million vesting option for 2015 is based upon Rollins achieving a specific number of plate appearances in 2014, a number Ruben Amaro Jr. said "he's done pretty much every single year." Even if the option does not automatically trigger, the Phillies hold an $8 million club option or Rollins can exercise a $5 million player option. So, at worst, Rollins is signed for four years and $38 million.
Both sides termed the deal as "fair," and the initial consensus around baseball was the same. Rollins was never going anywhere else - even if the Milwaukee Brewers offered a guaranteed fourth year, as Rollins suggested. Whether the Brewers actually had such a deal on the table is unknown.
"I wasn't going to make a decision without letting Ruben and the Phillies know," Rollins said. "If that was the case, I would be in the Midwest wearing blue and gold right now. But I can never say that it got to the point where myself or Ruben, I felt, thought that we wouldn't get the deal done."
Rollins sat in the very same room two months earlier and proclaimed he wouldn't accept anything less than a five-year deal. He said Monday that was merely posturing, but a source familiar with the negotiations said Rollins was still hoping for that contract after Jose Reyes signed a six-year, $106 million deal with Miami during baseball's winter meetings.
Amaro, through the negotiations, was conscious of Rollins' pride, even going as far to say that the shortstop had a right to wait for what he perceived was his value. Ultimately, the Phillies had the edge and signed a favorable term, but Rollins could say he left money on the table in Milwaukee to return to the only franchise he's ever known.
All parties agreed Monday: There is something to be said for that.
"Jimmy has an opportunity to be one of the greatest Phillies of all time," Amaro said.
If he plays in all four seasons, only Mike Schmidt will have spent more time in a Phillies uniform than Rollins. He is 368 hits and 1,494 at-bats shy of Schmidt's franchise records.
"You have to take everything in consideration when you've been somewhere since you were 17," Rollins said. "To go somewhere new, at this part of my career, you feel like a rented player because you weren't part of the process of building the team up."
Instead, he chose familiarity and will bat at the top of Charlie Manuel's lineup for the foreseeable future. Amaro said the negotiations did not include talk of Rollins possibly changing positions sometime during the contract to accommodate infield prospect Freddy Galvis. The truth is, Rollins remains an above-average defensive shortstop.
"It's hard to tell what we think is the best shortstop in our franchise, an MVP shortstop, someone who has won a World Series, that it's time to move," Amaro said. "We never had that discussion."
That's because Rollins is shortstop, he's Philadelphia baseball, the personality a generation of fans in this city will associate with success.
And he has at least three more years to cement that legacy.
Watch Jimmy Rollins talk about his new contract at http://www.philly.com/phillieszone
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