Rollins reportedly heading to Dodgers
Multiple reports say that longtime Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins will be dealt to Los Angeles for prospects.
SAN DIEGO - Six months ago, one Phillies icon took the hand of another and raised it in the air in celebration on a sunny, summer afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, the best player in team history, walked onto the field and congratulated Jimmy Rollins after the shortstop laced a single to rightfield off Edwin Jackson for the 2,235th hit of his career. Rollins passed Schmidt that day, becoming the hit king for a franchise that's been doing business for 132 years.
Rollins, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1996 as a 17-year-old out of suburban Oakland, has his name etched in several other important places in modern-era team history. He's also first in doubles; he's second in extra-base hits, stolen bases, total bases and games played.
Rollins was expected to be a lifelong Phillie just like Schmidt, to retire with the only major league team he's ever known. Instead, like Schmidt, Rollins' Phillies career is likely to end in San Diego.
Except, unlike the Hall of Fame third baseman, it won't come in a teary retirement speech at Jack Murphy Stadium.
In a stunning move to change the face of a sagging franchise - and help expedite an overdue rebuilding process - the Phillies reportedly have agreed to a trade that would send Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
According to numerous reports, the Phillies are expected to get two minor league pitching prospects in the deal. The trade could be finalized today.
If money is involved - Rollins is in the final year of a 4-year, $44 million deal - the commissioner has to approve the deal.
Another possible holdup: One of the final pieces in the deal might not have even been property of the Dodgers when the agreement was reached around 2 p.m. in San Diego, first reported by CSNPhilly.com. Later in the afternoon, the Dodgers agreed to a deal that will bring four players, including pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, to Los Angeles in exchange for All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon and veteran pitcher Dan Haren.
But as of midnight, it still remained to be seen who will be coming to Philadelphia in exchange for Rollins. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did his best to play coy with the media during his daily winter meetings rap session, which took place about 2 hours after the deal was reportedly in place.
"We're still talking with some clubs about a couple of things," Amaro said. "But nothing imminent."
Amaro went on to say he didn't think he'd have anything to announce before he leaves San Diego with the rest of the baseball world around noon today.
"I know there's a lot of Jimmy Rollins stuff out there," he said. "There is nothing to announce. As I've said before, we're keeping our options open and our minds open on any way we can improve our club long-term."
Rollins, 36, would also have to sign off on a trade as a player with 10-5 rights. All players with at least 10 years in the big leagues and at least 5 with their current team automatically get full no-trade clauses. But yesterday morning, word began to circulate inside the Manchester Grand Hyatt that Rollins was open to a deal with the Dodgers.
If and when the trade becomes official, it would appear to be a deal that is beneficial to all parties.
For the Phillies, it helps them turn a veteran on the backside of his career into pieces to help rebuild. For Rollins, who repeatedly had expressed his desire to stay in Philadelphia for the last two seasons, it allows him to leave a club that recently committed to rebuilding and join one with serious World Series talent.
For the Dodgers, who lost Hanley Ramirez to free agency, it gives them a dependable shortstop who has had postseason success as they make a run at their first World Series appearance since 1988. Rollins is a perfect, 1-year stopgap until top prospect Corey Seager is ready to take over at short.
Even though the trade was not official, nearly everyone in baseball was treating it as such yesterday afternoon. A sampling from Twitter:
Phillies reliever Ken Giles: "Was a pleasure to play with you @JimmyRollins11. Gonna miss having you around the club house and field. #philliesalltimehitsleader"
Former Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino: "Wishing my big bro and mentor @JimmyRollins11 all the best out west with the @Dodgers!!! Gonna be awkward not seeing ya rocking a 'P.' "
Phillies top prospect (and shortstop) J.P. Crawford: "All part of Gods plan."
For clarification purposes, Crawford, who doesn't turn 20 until January, was not being blocked by Rollins. Crawford only reached Class A Clearwater last summer and isn't likely to reach the major leagues until 2016 - when Rollins is no longer under contract - at the earliest.
If Rollins is moving on, the Phillies will have their own stopgap at shortstop until Crawford is deemed ready. Defensive whiz Freddy Galvis would almost certainly get his first extended look as a full-time major league shortstop.
If Rollins is moving on, it will be the first time he's not the Phillies' everyday shortstop since 2000.
When Rollins made his major league debut, on Sept. 17, 2000 at Veterans Stadium, he joined a lineup with the likes of Reggie Taylor, Kevin Jordan and Gary Bennett. He worked a walk in his first plate appearance, tripled in his second, and continued to show off his game-breaking talent in the final month of a season that saw the Terry Francona-guided Phillies lose 97 games.
Along with former top pick Pat Burrell, however, Rollins helped transition the Phillies from pretender to contender in the first decade of the new century. The ever-confident shortstop became the voice for the team - and for a city starved for a baseball winner - when he famously called the Phillies the "team to beat" before reporting to spring training in 2007.
"I think we are the team to beat in the NL East - finally," Rollins said.
The Phillies finished the 2006 season 12 games behind the first-place New York Mets, but then-general manager Pat Gillick signed free agent Adam Eaton and traded for fellow veteran starter Freddy Garcia that winter.
"For the first time since I've been here, I can say I know we have the pitching to get us there," Rollins said.
Instead, it was the offense - and the contributions of Cole Hamels on the mound - that led a new era of Phillies baseball, beginning with the first of five National League East titles in 2007, a World Series championship in 2008 and a second straight World Series appearance in 2009.
Rollins' role was as pivotal as anyone in the organization.
He backed up his "team to beat" statement by winning National League MVP honors in 2007. He hit leadoff home runs in the clinching games of National League playoff series wins over the Brewers and Dodgers in 2008. He overcame an ugly start to the 2009 season to finish strong, knocking a walkoff, two-run double off Los Angeles closer Jonathan Broxton in Game 4 of the NLCS at Citizens Bank Park.
The long list of Rollins' highlights is nearly never-ending. But the next one he makes won't come in his familiar red pinstripes, but, instead, in Dodger blue.