AND ON THE eighth day, Jimmy Rollins was still a member of the Phillies, but still very likely to end up in Dodger blue sometime soon. Possibly by the time you read this in today's Daily News.
Although the Phillies front-office contingent left the Winter Meetings in San Diego more than a week ago, the trade terms they agreed to with the Los Angeles Dodgers had not been finalized as of late last night. It would still be startling, however, if the Rollins trade isn't a done deal before the weekend.
What's the hold up? The same thing that was holding the trade up a week ago, 2 days after the trade had been agreed upon: Matt Kemp and the Padres.
Los Angeles' new front office made a series of franchise-altering trades and signings in the last 2 days of the Winter Meetings last week, including trading away two All-Stars from their lineup (Kemp, Dee Gordon), adding a former MVP (Rollins), and solidifying their rotation (signing Brandon McCarthy).
Numerous transactions mean numerous moving parts.
The Dodgers cannot complete their trade for Rollins, who has spent his entire 15-year career in Philadelphia, until they finalize their deal that will send Kemp 120 miles down Interstate 5 to San Diego.
One of the two players the Phillies are expected to get in return for Rollins, righthanded pitching prospect Zach Eflin, has to go from the Padres to the Dodgers in the Kemp deal before he can make his way across the country to Philadelphia.
According to multiple reports, the San Diego Padres were still mulling over Kemp's medical records yesterday. Kemp didn't take the physical until Tuesday.
Yesterday, USAToday.com reported that the physical revealed "severe arthritis" in both of Kemp's hips. But the medical report leak may have been a bit of posturing on the Padres' part, an effort to gain a better return (read: more money) in their own blockbuster deal with the Dodgers.
Despite the dramatics, the Kemp trade appeared to be imminent late last night. But like the Rollins deal, not officially announced.
Even if the Kemp trade were to fall apart, that doesn't necessarily mean the Rollins' deal would be nixed. Without Eflin, the Dodgers and Phillies would simply have to renegotiate on a return for Rollins, something each side has likely planned for with each passing day.
The Dodgers' farm system is rich in talent, and there is no shortage of pitchers who could potentially replace Eflin (Chris Anderson? Zach Lee?). The Phillies also could add more of their own players or prospects to reach a deal.
It's very difficult to believe both sides doing the heavy lifting to consummate such a trade - including getting Rollins to waive a full no-trade clause - but not completing the deal, regardless of possible obstacles. The Phillies are hell-bent on shedding veterans as they commit to a rebuild; the Dodgers are in need of a sturdy and dependable veteran at shortstop (and a top-of-the-lineup option) while they await top infield prospect Corey Seager.
In addition to Eflin, a 20-year-old who was was rated the 10th best prospect in the Padres system by MLB.com, the Phillies were expected to get Dodgers 22-year-old lefthanded pitching prospect Tom Windle in the Rollins' deal.
Earlier this week, Jim Callis, former executive editor of Baseball America and current MLB.com senior writer, labeled Eflin and Windle as two of the top 5 prospects traded at the Winter Meetings; additionally, he wrote that both are superior to Jesse Biddle, considered the second-best pitching prospect in the Phillies system behind 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola.
The Phillies, meanwhile, have been silent on the Rollins' deal since it was first reported at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Dec. 10. They left the Winter Meetings a day later, last Thursday, with nary a comment of their week in San Diego.
The Phillies have a strict policy of not commenting on free-agent signings or trades until they are finalized.