Does Rollins Deserve a Contract Extension?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 01, 2010 08:44 AM | Comments: 68
Analysis, Free Agency, News, Opinion, Posts

Over $88 million is already being doled out to seven players and a few option clauses in 2012. Presently, Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies decision-makers have more pressing needs with guys like Jayson Werth and possibly finding a new home for Raul Ibanez for 2011. The calendar still reads 2010, which matters not because the Phillies could have a decision to make on Jimmy Rollins soon.

Rollins’ 2011 option was exercised in advance of the 2010 season, which was basically a formality. Everyone knew Rollins would be back at a relatively friendly $8.5 million in ’10. What no one is sure of is if he’ll be back beyond next year.

Should the Phillies pay their superstar shortstop and franchise face now, locking him up a long-term deal, or wait it out until after this season to see whether or not he’s worth it? Ruben Amaro stated last week that they would not seek an extension with him for now. Here are the pros and cons of signing Rollins long-term this offseason when he turns 32 rather than wait until age 33.


-His defensive metrics are still off the charts. As you witnessed in the postseason, even with one healthy leg and one not-so healthy leg, his arm is still 100 percent. Rollins has a cannon arm and continually made great plays to either side of the infield, routinely gunning out runners on close plays at first base.

-J-Roll’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) was 6.9, good for seventh in the majors with a minimum of 700 innings played. It was the third highest UZR of his career.

-When healthy, he’s still a demon on the basepaths. Rollins stole 17 bases in just 88 games. That’s a considerable amount of steals when you take into account the end of the season when Rollins was unable to run at full strength and therefore his numbers suffered.

-Not sure if this is a pro or a con, but Rollins did walk more times than he struck out (40 BB/32 K). This could fall into either category as we know J-Roll often swings early in the count.

-Rollins has the talent to turn things around instantly. The past two years have been sub-par by his standards, but everyone knows he can be one of the best shortstops in all of baseball. The question is, does he want to be the guy he was in 2007?

-The 2012 free agent list is slim pickin’s at the shortstop position. Clint Barmes, Jason Bartlett, Yuniesky Betancourt, Rafael Furcal, JJ Hardy, Marco Scutaro, and Jack Wilson are the better names on that list. None of them scream marquis defender and game-changing bat when healthy. They all whisper overrated and overpriced. Rollins is head and shoulders above the rest for ’12.

-His leadership abilities aren’t lacking. In my first season on “the beat”, J-Roll would usually speak whether or not he did well or not. Sometimes he would hide from accountability, but other than Brad Lidge or Shane Victorino, few Phillies were available everyday. Still, his loose demeanor and quiet confidence seems to soothe his teammates and the fans even in the worst of times.

-It assures the Phillies will have a viable shortstop option for several more years as the farm system lacks a guy who can step in for Rollins in the near future.

-Locking him up now would fit into the “cost certainty” category that Amaro routinely mentions when it comes to the payroll.


-First pitch swinging. It’s going to send Philadelphians and those who follow the team to an early grave. So often, Rollins will roll a first pitch over to second base or pop it up to the shortstop, leaving him with an awful plate appearance. As his skills slowly deteriorate on the wrong side of 30, he’ll have to be more patient at the plate and that starts with working counts in his favor. This should be near the top of his to-do list for ’11.

-His conditioning was clearly an issue at the end of the season following his leg injuries. He looked slower and heavier and that was brought on by the fact that his most prized possessions failed him. Rollins must come into spring training next year in the best shape of his life.

-Is adding another long-term contract a positive for this team? Depending on what happens with Werth – his commands are in the $100 million range, presumably – then a Rollins extension expands the thick waistband the Phillies have grown recently.

-Why do it now if you don’t have to? The Phillies have the wiggle room to wait it out and see where this season leads Rollins. If it’s on a downhill slope, they can choose to look elsewhere via free agency or trade. If J-Roll fins that sweet stroke again and proves to be healthy, they may lose the upper hand they have right now.

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Pat Gallen has written 1714 articles on Phillies Nation.

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  • Posts: 0 Richard

    I suggest you take a look at Rollins’ actual numbers when he swings on the first pitch. You might be surprised.

  • Posts: 0 Pat Gallen

    Richard, I dont have to take a look at his numbers to know that even if they might be OK, it’s still ridiculous to think that a leadoff guy should take one pitch. He should know how to work a count in his favor, using up pitches, making the guy work, then make his move.

    After all, if he’s a professional hitter, he should be able to slap a single on a 2-1 count just as easily as he could 0-0…right?

    Don’t tell me you think he should go up there hacking first pitch all the time, because we both know that’s not the way it goes.

  • Posts: 0 Dan

    The 3rd and 5th cons don’t really seem like cons to me.

  • Posts: 0 Pat Gallen

    Does anyone believe J-Roll should get a contract extension now or later? Anyone? Anyone…

  • Posts: 0 Bacardipr05

    Wrong side of 30 hogwash..its freaking 31 years old…Geez….

  • Posts: 0 Chuck


    I believe that Rollins WILL bounce back in a big way from last season. He’s not happy with his performance….injury aside. He’s THE heart and soul of this team…on the field and in the clubhouse.

    Sign him now.

  • Posts: 0 Matt Kwasiborski

    I do think Rollins deserves an extension for sure. He is the leader of this team much in the same way Jeter is the leader of the Yankees. He did have a horrendous year that was sabotaged by some serious injuries for any athlete. What was encouraging was that he began to steal some bases and hit some key hits in the postseason and he began using his backhand again to field the ball. The ability to play SS at a high level without being able to use your backhand is a true sign he will be OK.

    Look Jeter in 2008 was considered “done” and he rebounded for a solid year last year (this year numbers are down but he has the ability to play at a high level). And Ripken at age 30 was considered on the downside and all he did at 31 was win the MVP. There is no doubt that Rollins will be productive again and deserves a 3yr extension. At the very least he will be like Valdez in 3 years time and many people want to see Valdez now which is ludicrious.

  • Posts: 0 tony c

    I don’t think Rollins should get a extension.His numbers have gone down every year.He is getting hurt more and doesn’t take care of himself.The Phils need to get younger,Valdez has a great arm and will improve with more playing time.

  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Rollins is an enigma. He has really never learned to work a count to his favor. He is a great fielder. He does not bunt or has a good on-base-percentage. I believe that Rollins is addicted to “the fantastic,” “the highlight film”, “the hero role.” I would not sign him to an extension unless he has a strong year and a healthy year, playing at least 140 games. And that extension would only be for two years, if I did sign him. Despite being exciting, Rollins’ salad days are coming to an end.

  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Rollins is far, far from being in the same class as Derek Jeter, in my opinion. Jeter is a first-ballad Hall-of-Fame player. Rollins will not even be considered for the Hall. He has a number of shortstops who are much better all around.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    No way, do NOT extend him now. I’d say that the probability of him bouncing back and snapping a 4-year downhill trend is lower than the probability of another bad season with a bat.

    The only sensible thing to do with J-roll is what Pat mentions in his last paragraph:
    “Why do it now if you don’t have to? The Phillies have the wiggle room to wait it out and see where this season leads Rollins. If it’s on a downhill slope, they can choose to look elsewhere via free agency or trade. If J-Roll fins that sweet stroke again and proves to be healthy, they may lose the upper hand they have right now.”

    If he suddenly has a great 2011 and his value goes up, we’re just gonna have to deal with it. It’s better to be prudent and wait and see how he performs, especially after an injury-riddled season.

  • Posts: 0 Pat Gallen

    Manny, the question is though, whats the alternative? They have no viable options in the minors and unless they make a trade, there isn’t much on the free agent market. Even a J-Roll at this stage is better than any of those names.

  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Jimmy will be 32 in a few weeks, which means we’re talking about an extension that will start when he’s 33 (the 2012 season). I’d guess he’d be looking for at least a three year deal, which would take him through age 35. It seems like the common consensus here is that everything will be business as usual as this core reaches it’s mid 30s. I tend to disagree with that premise. Sooner or later, the team needs to let some of these guys go. I’d probably let Rollins walk (no pun intended) and look for a low cost guy that can field his position. They can use the money elsewhere (pitching, leftfield, thirdbase) and get by with a light hitting shortstop.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    How can you offer a contract extension now? After 2007, there has been a series of injuries sandwhiching a very mediocre season (by Jroll’s standards).

    NP with just waiting and seeing how he fares. If say 2/3 of the season has passed and he looks to be on the same upward path of improvement that he showed from 04 until his MVP season of 07. In 08 he missed 20-25 games and hit .277. 09 he played in 155 games, led the league in official at bats but hit .250, had an OBP of less than .300 and did not steal a lot of bases. And of course 2010 which was a wash.

    An average Jimmy Rollins (.280, 40 SB’s, 100-120 runs, 20 or so Hrs and 40 doubles – which he averaged the last 7 years) would help to make this team a contender – add his average year with those of Chase, Vic & Ryan – we are winning the East again.

    But, patience. Wait and see what happens. 32 is not old but if he gets injured again or stays sub .270 for most of the year – let him move on.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    How many shortstops were still good at 35 though? I haven’t done any research on this but I’m sure the list is extensive. My money is on him to bounce back.

    Sign him.

  • Posts: 0 Marc H

    Not a chance; I wouldn’t give him an extension right now. Jimmy has to learn that his body is different at 33 from the way it was when he was 22. He needs to train in the off-season accordingly. If he earns it this season, then the money will be there.

  • I’m pretty sure you don’t extend him now. Why would you do that when he is clearly a huge question mark? He is my favorite Phillie of all time, but that doesn’t mean we should throw money at him.

    I don’t like the first pitch comment. The first pitch is often the best pitch that a batter sees in an AB. He just needs to be less predictable at swinging on the first pitch.

    More importantly, he needs to get in shape. His wife worked (works?) at a gym in Mt. Airy. MRS. ROLLINS, PLEASE HELP YOUR HUSBAND GET BACK TO FORM SO HE STOPS STRAINING HIMSELF!!!

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    I’d love to extend Jimmy. But the amount of the extension would have to be a little “friendlier” than $8.5m. Throw some incentives in there. How about 3y/20m with some incentives?

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Chuck, I don’t remember what game it was – Jimmy was back from his first stint on the DL and as one of the last batters, he did not drive in the winning run (it happens). Anyway, tough loss for the Phils and the cameras showed quite the reflective Jimmy Rollins just sitting in the dugout, alone and staring. I don’t begin to even guess what was going through his head at the time but, after his second stint this year on the DL – he was never quite the same. Does that mean anything? I don’t know, I had never seen that from the usually positive JROLL.

    Signing him; I’m not saying don’t sign him I’m just advocating waiting for a good bit of the season to transpire then assess.

  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Chuck, I’m not sure where the extensive list of 35 year old shortstops performing at a high level would be. This year, I only see three starting shortstops over 34 – the majority of teams actually have shortstops under 30. It’s a demanding position that requires a lot of athletism.

    I think we’re starting to adopt the “Yankee mentality” of thinking it’s necessary to field an All-Star at every position. If the 2010 season proves anything, it’s that you don’t need to field a roster of premium position players to win a championship. Pitching is almost always the key component of winning. The Giants are one win away from proving that.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Pat, that’s a very good point… but 1) things change a lot in one year (Hamilton was obsolete in March, now he’s one of the very best; Chase Utley was a top 5-10 draft pick in fantasy, next year that won’t even be remotely close to the truth; Prince Fielder was going to hit 50 bombs, that didn’t happen; I could go on and on)…Point is: the market can change in a heartbeat; just ask the soon to be WS Champions Giants 2) Jimmy’s injuries this year were too notable and frequent to not wait and see how he responds in 2011…

    … and 3) I think this one is interesting: what about Freddy Galvis? He’s been described as a “wizard” with the glove… he could be a very good replacement for J-roll defensively–which honestly, that should be the major reason we would want to keep him in the first place–for his glove. If Galvis can hit .240 at the major league level, is that too much of a dropoff from an aging Jimmy (’2012 and beyond’ version) who has been hitting around .250 the past two seasons?? And consider that whoever would replace Jimmy would bat way down in the order.

  • Chuck, there is basically no advantage to signing him now. If he continues to perform as he is, he will get less money offered. If performs at a better level, I don’t think that he gets more money than he gets now. He probably needs a smaller contract anyway. The only way signing him now could work is if he returns to MVP form and commands a big price.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    I think that there is an advantage of signing him now. If you think he is going to bounce back, then you are going to have to sign him to “bounce back” money in the middle of the season. If he can stay on the field, his glove alone is worth 6m a year. Add to it 13/65/.270/25 and you still have yourself one of the best shortstops in the game. If he will sign for market value based on his last two years now, then why not do it?

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 George

    This is a silly discussion. No matter what anyone may think about the pros and cons of inking Rollins now, the front office has already said they aren’t going to do that. Might as well be discussing whether the Phils will make this year’s World Series.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Re-sign him but at less money than he makes currently.

  • Posts: 0 Phillistein

    Extend him now. That’s just based on – one less thing to worry about. I agree with Nick when he says that even if he bounces back – who is going to pay him more than $8.5 in 2012 and beyond. However, having a happyJ-Roll in 2012 will pay major dividends. My gut tells me that he’s going to do what it takes to get in shape for 2011 – he just seems to have too much pride.

    But, BUT………can Cholly continue to bat him leadoff. Getting him to take a few pitches comes under the heading of trying to teach an old dog new tricks. The problem is – Vic isn’t a leadoff guy either.

    Hey – we don’t really have a leadoff guy!!!!!!!! case can be made that we haven’t had one for years.

    Rumor Central:

    I picked something up that RAJ was looking at Francoeur to platoon with D-Brown next year. Please, if there is a god in heaven please say it ain’t so. beyond the Francoeur issue – D has to learn to hit lefties. Platooning him would be a mistake IMHO

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I would be all for giving Jimmy a modest extension now… buy low, sell high… if he has a great year, we won’t be able to bring him back. I wouldn’t give him anything extravagant or lengthy but 3 years would give us enough time to figure out whether Galvis is going to be able to be an every day major league shortstop.

    I like Galvis… he’s still young (20 y/o in AA- he was the youngest player on the team). He has the glove… he needs to develop the bat.

    On the Minor League front… Jon Singleton has impressed the brass with his work ethic (they are evaluating him in the OF). He should begin the year in Clearwater as a LF.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    OC – Galvis can’t hit. Period.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Mike from DE

    I totally skipped your pros and cons section because this question is common sense. YOU DO NOT GIVE AN AGING PLAYER WHO JUST HAD A DOWN YEAR FULL OF INJURIES AN EXTENSION IF YOU DON’T HAVE TO. The club needs to wait and see what kind of shape Jimmy is in when he shows up to camp and how he performs for the first few months of the season. If he’s healthy and back to the old Jimmy that we know and love, you start discussing extensions around the All Star Break and not a day sooner. It’s called an “Evaluation Year” and it’s what the team should have done with Donovan McHoward before breaking the bank on his new deal. Hopefully the Phils learned from that massive mistake.

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    When healthy, Jimmy Rollins is one of the most exciting players to watch, a great combination of speed, power, and defense. While not a hall of famer, he is certainly a Phillies Wall of Fame player. I’ve enjoyed watching him for the past 10 seasons.

    Now it’s time to come to reality – he’s breaking down. A lot of the younger guys don’t remember pre steroid baseball. While off season conditioning, diet, and surgery have improved considerably, a 10 year career as a starting position player is beating the odds. All but a few lose crucial bat speed between 31-33. Some, who had great power, didn’t have to hit the ball square to get by, made it a few more years. Others, who had a superior eye, still had good enough selectivity to continue. Jimmy has neither, he makes excitement with his legs. His legs are going. Like Griffey, he may squeeze in a good year or 2, but his best years are behind him, and is as likely to be on the dl as on the starting roster.

    Like Werth, Rollins is worth a lot to some teams (could probably get a 4 yr/40M contract easily), but I hope the Phils don’t do it. Finish up his contract, then get a Valdez type to fill the gap until you develop another ss (Phils did pretty well without Rollins this year).

    Our team is getting old. The leadership thing is overplayed (and with an experienced team, is unnecessary). We’re saddled with Howard’s contract, and the golden boy will probably be extended at some point. Left, 3rd, and SS need to turn over in the next 2 seasons to remain competitive.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    A three year deal at $20-25 MM is definitely worth it. Think about it…Rollins with his glove and hitting just .250 is worth that….

    ….and I really think he bounces back….maybe not to MVP form but somewhere in the .275 range.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    bfo- Nobody, but nobody, pays Jimmy 4/40m.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Jimmy Rollins hit .273 with 11 HR as a 20 y/o in AA. Galvis hit 5 HR and .233… Galvis has to focus on making contact and the rest will fall into place. He’s got the wheels and the glove- he just needs to put his bat on the ball and fill out a little bit. He is one of the only teenagers to ever play in Reading… the Phillies obviously feel like he’s going to find it, in due time. They haven’t been afraid to promote him and if defense is the top priority at SS, you have to think that they’re going to consider him and maybe that’s why they’re not going to press the issue with Rollins (and an extension).

  • Posts: 0 Terry

    I say they should try to get him locked up now. With him coming off a down year, they should be able to get him cheaper than they will if he has a good 2011. The other upside of this is that when you look at the pro’s versus the con’s, the con’s are all things that are fixable. He can get back in shape, and he can work on his plate discipline, it’s just a matter of whether or not he will. Knowing the competitor he is, I’d have to guess he’ll be back next year. Also, look at the pile of junk we have as other options. J-Roll is miles above the rest of those guys, even after a bad year.

  • Posts: 0 mtuske

    Anything over the league minimum is too much. Wilson Valdez is every bit as good or better. Rollins problem isn’t age it’s his brain. He is baseball stupid.

  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Terry – We don’t even know who “those guys” are yet. Sure, we can look at a projected free agent list, but free agency is not the only way to acquire players. There are always trade options, both on the major and minor league levels. Maybe RAJ trades a prospect who is “blocked” in the Phillies organization (perhaps a firstbaseman) for a shortstop prospect who is “blocked” in another organization.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 Richard

    “Anything over the league minimum is too much. Wilson Valdez is every bit as good or better. Rollins problem isn’t age it’s his brain. He is baseball stupid.”

    Most moronic comment I’ve seen in ages. Rollins is a very smart baseball player, and he’s so much better than Valdez it’s not worth discussing.

    My point about the first-pitch swinging idea was that Rollins is enormously successful when swinging at the first pitch. We tend to remember the pop-ups and weak grounders, but on balance he does very well. Now, I’m not going to argue that there aren’t times when he goes up hacking first pitch and probably should have waited a bit, worked the count. Obviously he does and it’s frustrating (though Victorino strikes me as worse at this). (It’s funny, I recognize he has success swinging first pitch, but I also want him to draw more walks.)

    But if you’re asking whether we think Rollins should be extended, I’d think our opinion would be based on whether we think he can be his old self, or reasonably close to it, not whether he will finally stop doing this one thing everyone says he should stop doing.

    Overall, I’m of two minds. I think extending him would be savvy, because I believe he will feel he has a lot to prove and will have a strong 2011. But I can’t say the front office would be wrong to take a wait and see approach, when it comes to the health of his legs. So they’re kind of in a bind.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck


    and you’re just PLAIN stupid.

    Giving a 10 year veteran, a former MVP, a force on a perennial postseason team, basically the heart and soul of the roster…..giving him the league minimum is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    bfo… what Rollins has going for him is his glove/arm. Ask Omar Vizquel what a Gold Glove reputation can do to extend a career (still playing at age 43 despite his offensive inadequacy).

    Jimmy is arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball…

  • Posts: 0 mtuske

    @Rich – Most moronic comment I’ve seen in ages. Rollins is a very smart baseball player, and he’s so much better than Valdez it’s not worth discussing.

    No sorry he’s an idiot.


    that link is perfect for Jimmy

  • Posts: 0 mtuske

    @Chuck – Giving a 10 year veteran, a former MVP, a force on a perennial postseason team, basically the heart and soul of the roster…..giving him the league minimum is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

    No paying washed up talent money that should be used on younger talent is what we should do. I could give to sh.ts about his MVP year. What does that have to do with now. He will never have a year close to that. Right now he is a bottom of the line up hitter. That is all.

  • Lets start that I really like JRoll and think he has brought great things to this team and this city. I do think you have to resign him in the off season, but if he can stay healthy and play close to good Jimmy through June then you can give him 2 or 3 years, Depending on how far off the FO thinks Glavis is from being able to at least hit the ball like around .260ish in the big leagues. I do not think you can say the can not hit period as a 20 in AA. I am not saying this kid is Ozzie Smith, but he could not hit until he was 30. But by no means do you extend JRoll now.
    Also if you can get a good lead off guy somewhere in this line up and move JRoll down to 7 or 8th then to pay one of the best defending SS in the league for 7 or 8 million is not a bad idea, if you have the offense from other areas, and even if he only hits .250 I think he would still get a couple of big hits during the year and post season


  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Jimmy is his own worst enemy at the plate. He hit a nice .292 with the count even and a respectable .259 when behind in the count. Were he messes up by trying to do too much is when he’s ahead inthe count. A pathetic .197 when ahead in the count. It’s purely mental with Jimmy.

    I’d sign him to a 2 or 3 year deal, but not for big bucks.



  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Only one team has more money committed to players for 2011 and that is the Yankees for only $1 million more than the Phillies. Having too many players on long-term contracts limits the organization’s ability to adjust. As we saw this year, the team was not much different with Rollins or Valdez. I will admit this may be because of Rollin’s injuries but the dollar difference is dramatic.
    Phils should not extend because Rollins is not improving. If they can get a friendly contract I am not opposed but having room for some new players, even if not yet identified gives Amaro some flexibility. As Ted Bell say we have a great first baseman coming up in the organization. He is blocked by Howard. Now, if another team has a great SS in their system there could be a trade.
    The key here is not to be limited by what exists within the organization now but to think outside the box by what we could attract. Rollins is replaceable so why sign him?
    We need some young guys!

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Is this clown, mtuske, for REAL??

  • Posts: 0 Terry

    He can’t be. There is no way Valdez is better than Jimmy. Yes, he’s a nice back up, but he is not an every day player. Has anyone ever seen him really drive the ball? ever? Someone above mentioned that Jimmy is his own worst enemy, which I agree with, but at least Jimmy can come up big when he needs to. Try putting Valdez up there against Broxton in the NLCS, are ripping that shot off the top of the wall in this year’s NLCS. Wilson Valdez, with all due respect, will never be Jimmy Rollins.

  • Posts: 0 mtuske

    @Chuck – Yes I’m for real. Are you? You don’t pay people for what they did in the past but for what you think they can do in the future. Rollins has been a great asset to this team in the past. He is now an over paid gold glover. Sorry that’s my opinion.

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