Rollins Signing Overshadows So-So Papelbon Deal

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, December 19, 2011 09:53 AM | Comments: 28
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

Amaro gets his guys. (Photo: SI.com)

When Ruben Amaro wants a guy, he goes and gets the guy. That’s been his Modus Operandi since he took the reigns from Pat Gillick just prior to the 2009 season. We can hardly fault him for that line of thinking because it has worked out pretty well for the Phillies; a team that has made three playoffs appearances in three seasons under his watch.

The Jimmy Rollins signing on Saturday was a wonderful mix of Amaro “getting his guy” and waiting it out to let the market dictate what would happen. Had Amaro done that with the Papelbon signing, he would almost certainly have saved a boatload of money on a really good closer of some sort.

So, the J-Roll deal, in my estimation, is an A-deal. The Papelbon signing was about a C-minus right off the bat. We don’t know how either will shake out, but from just a contractual standpoint, and in the context of how the free agent market has looked all offseason, I think those grades are fair assessments.

Had Amaro waited on the closer, he could have gone after Ryan Madson on the cheap if Papelbon were no longer available. At this point, that could be a $15 million difference, or more.

Amaro, however, more than made up for it with a fair-market value contract for one of the top shortstops in baseball.  No matter what you think of Rollins, he still is just that. And think about it; J-Roll got just one more guaranteed year than Rafael Furcal while making $4 million more per season than the Cardinals shortstop. I’d say he’s worth about $4 million more than the $7 million-per-year Furcal was given earlier this month; wouldn’t you?

And as we’ve learned this winter, shortstop is embarrassingly thin throughout Major League Baseball. Maybe you’re tired of seeing Rollins pop up or not be the prototypical leadoff hitter. But, you can’t honestly tell me you’d rather have Yuniesky Betancourt or Jack Wilson manning that position for a year or two. Freddy Galvis is not ready for prime time, so this is a move that had to be made. Perhaps when Galvis is ready, Rollins will be primed to change positions. But right now, Rollins is a superior defensive shortstop that still has the ability to change a game with his bat.

Over at Brotherly Glove, Eric Seidman says the allocation of both the Rollins and Papelbon contracts are a little bit skewed, but that paying $23-25 million for a top-flight closer and a top shortstop is fine overall. I happened to agree with that sentiment.

I’m not saying I’m a fan of paying a closer all that money. But if you’re going to pay it, you might as well pay for the best – and that’s exactly what Pap has been (other than Mariano Rivera, of course).

Although I’m bringing it back up, the Rollins deal definitely overshadows the Papelbon signing. It was a mark of a GM using patience and the market to his benefit. Had he done that with Papelbon, we’d all be doing back flips. But overall, it’s been a solid offseason for Ruben Amaro.

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1683 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    I agree 100% Pat. J-roll signing was very solid and makes up in some way for the Papelbon contract… Madson will probably end up signing for less than 4 years and substantially less annual value than Papelbon … and it just sucks to lose one of our guys under those circumstances.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Madson will get less money because there are less teams bidding on him …

    same that just happened with Rollins

    I dont think it will be fair to compare Papelbon vs. Madson contracts whenever Ryan finnaly signs- because the Phillies targeted their guy, and bid for him aggressively to ensure they landed him – when you get the guy you want, maybe you dont worry about an extra few million if you think its going to make your team that much better .. and they clearly value Papelbon’s experience as a Closer vs. Madson just doing it for one year

    • Posts: 0 G. Truth

      Less money, fewer teams.

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    I was hoping in some way he would improve the offense. No just talking the bench but starters. I think he could of saved some of that $$ from Papelhead and possibly went after Aramis. I also dont care so much for the re-signing of Schneider. So far, other than re-signing J-Roll( im starting to think Rollins never wanted to leave) he hasnt really done anything spectacular this off-season.

    • Posts: 0 Chris

      Yes but then you are committing to three more years of a very old 3rd baseman who can’t play defense and has some back problems of his own.

  • Posts: 79 branderson925

    Avatar of branderson925

    Nice write-up as per usual, Pat.

    Yeah I agree with your sentiment almost 100% with regards to Pap’s contract and the new J-Roll deal. This is precisely what I called for in not budging with Rollins and only giving him 3 years with an option for 1 more. Makes a lot of sense and it was pretty nice seeing the FA market for SS fall into place with Furcal going to the Cards which I think they might have still paid a bit too much for an injury prone player.

    Say what you will about J-Roll not being the player he used to be. He still is a productive hitter, can lead rallies, plays stellar defense, and most importantly is the face of the franchise and a tried and true clubhouse and on the field leader.

    So glad to see one of my favorite players in the franchise remain. Would have just been ugly to see Jimmy donning a Cardinals jersey or something. Ugh, can you imagine….

    Now we gotta see Pap earn his contract by pulling on the Eckersley Cy Young year. Haha, a man can dream, can’t he?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Thome, Nix, Wigginton, Papelbon .. and a potential second LHP from the pen in Willis

    I’d say thats a pretty good offseason ??

    I like Aramis too – but they couldn’t afford him AND Rollins – and Rollins is more important sicne you already have a 3b in Polanco (or Wigginton).. to replace Rollins with Valdez, Galvis, or a rental would hurt more than Aramis would help..

    I wonder about extensions during the season- trying to retain Victorino and Hamels at the end of the year ….

  • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

    Rationalizing that a good contract makes up for a bad contract doesn’t seem like the correct way to evaluate this offseason. Why couldn’t RAJ have signed a shortstop AND a closer to deals that made sense? He really overvalued the closer position in this case. On a dollar per inning basis, he’s placing more value on Papelbon’s 70 innings than he is on the innings that Halliday, Lee, Hamels provide. I don’t see any other team that would have given Papelbon that much in years or dollars, so who exactly was Amaro bidding against?

    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      Jeff, the numbers still make sense. Next season, the Phillies will pay $22 million for a top 5-6 shortstop and a Top 3-4 closer. Thats not too bad considering. Hindsight is 20/20, so he could have gotten a better deal for another closer. But he could not have gotten Rollins at a cheaper price.

  • Posts: 992 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    I do not think you can say for sure how much Pap or other closers would have signed for if RAJ did not sign Pap when he did. Did he set the market? Maybe? If he did not target and get his man who knows what other people would have offered other closers. Also you will not be able to compare Madson’s and Pap’s contract because Pap is a lot better then Madson as a closer as so much as proven in the past. the money to me is not that importent but the years for a closer does bother me

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Get rid of Victorino as soon as you can. If he only hit right handed he would be a lot better, but since he thinks he is a switch hitter he is vastly overrated at the plate. He takes terrible lines in the OF but generally has the speed to makeup for it. And he’s an idiot. Please, please unload this guy while we still can.

    Obviously, Hamels you must keep. Same with Pence. So they will have to make room somewhere else…and you’ll have to find a new third baseman during the next calendar year. Someone has to go to make room. Maybe Victorino or Utley. Obviously you can’t trade any of the big 3 starters. So what do you do? 80M locked up just between Hamels (with extension), Halladay, Lee, and Howard. 11M rollins, 15M Utley…Pap…this is going to be tricky in the coming two years to see what happens with Hamels and Pence.

    • Posts: 0 Don M

      I agree that Hamels is a MUST KEEP … and I think they want to see what Mayberry does with a full season – or what Mini Mart can do in the OF …. if Mayberry can play solid defense – does he shift to CF next year and Brown in LF to part ways with Victorino ?

      I’ve never been a huge Victorino fan, but
      “He takes terrible lines in the OF, but generally has the speed to makeup for it ”

      proving that his “terribel lines are a non-issue.. so why is that brought-up all the time??

    • Posts: 0 rc

      Think you’re overreacting on the flyin hawaiian. Besides who is your everyday CF? Shane had a 129 OPS+ , double figures in 2bs, 3bs, hrs and is obviously a fine CF who makes mistakes with angles some. For a while he was the best and most consistent hitter on the team. Also has some speed and isn’t costing an arm and a leg. You’re probably not going to get a lot for him and then you have to replace him unless you want Nix to be an every day player. Mayberry can play CF in a pinch but Shane’s going to cover a lot more ground which fits.

      Without knowing who you’re suggesting Victorino can be traded for and how you’re replacing him, I can’t get on board with that. This isn’t the Padres either, we aren’t in rebuild mode. You don’t bring in all these 30 year old aces, Papelbon and re-sign Rollins to open up another hole. Who do you want for CF who is at least as good as Shane?

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    I agree with the respected poster Geoff that the Phillies could do worse than trading Shane. I think that trading him for a true top of the lineup guy with a different set of offensive skills can really help this lineup. As I said in a previous thread, Jimmy and Shane play too much alike. If you can pull a true leadoff guy out of this, then you could possibly drop Jimmy to the two hole and the lineup starts to make more sense.

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 rc

      Jroll career .259, .694, ops+ of 83 hitting 2nd.

      What leadoff hitter do you want to get because the traditional leadoff hitter is rare.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Something i’ve mentioned before but it never gains much steam . . . .

    If the Phillies have no legit 3b option – and Galvis is MLB-ready in a year or two … would Rollins shift to 3b -(Cal Ripken, A-Rod, etc.) .. for the good of the team

    He definitely has the arm for 3b, and I always thought that would be a natural shift for him – and i would think its easier to find a defensive-SS than a pure defensive -3b …

    • Posts: 0 Geoff

      Thats not a bad idea at all, moving Rollins to 3rd. His hitting habits are more of a 3B than a shortstop anyway, and he still has a cannon arm.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Don M – You have mentioned it. That would give us a bad hitting 3B so whats the point? So then we would have a bad hitting SS AND a bad hitting 3B.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Oh, Rollins is a bad hitter ??

    .268 with 16 HRs and 30 steals last year …. with a shift to a less demanding defensive position possibly able to help his legs stay healthy – which could give him more power/speed on offense

  • Posts: 5221 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Where do they stand now on team payroll? Do we have any flexibility to make a deadline move? Or are we bumping right up against the L.T.?

    I know we are all busy now with the holidays so close, but I’d appreciate if you could update your previous payroll posting with all the new signings sometime when you get a chance.

    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      Hey Lefty, planning on it for later in the week.

      • Posts: 5221 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Thanks, I look forward to it. I’ve seen Gelb’s but it’s not as comprehensive as yours.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Don – 3B is a “power position”. Don’t get me wrong, i don’t care where our power comes from but I don’t know how happy I would be with a 3B hitting 16 HR’s and batting .260. Now, if you could put a SS that would hit 25/100 over there, then I would be fine :).

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 Don M

      While I agree with that for the most part- … I think you worry more about TEAM NEEDS – than going by history of positions …

      If your team would be best suited with Rollins at 3b in 2014 … (if they dont land Youkilis, Wright, etc) .. I think he would do a nice job there.. i’m not trying to argue he should do it anytime soon – just that I think that’s an actual option for him- and the Phillies, down the road

  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    To do a deal with Hamels requires that Hamels wants to do a deal. I suspect that Cole thinks he will do best when he has the leverage of being a Free Agent. Of course Amaro could overpay to stop that (RH contract anyone?).

    As to Pabelbon – how much do you think the Marlins would have paid for him? It is SO easy to criticize later but the market for closers was wide open and Pabelbon could easily get that money elsewhere. Seems the market is not valuing Madson that highly since everyone is signing around him.

    I think it was a good year although I don’t like the Thome signing. Just hate to have a guy on the bench who can only be used to Pinch hit. When you get into the extra inning games you are limiting yourself.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Don M. – I think Jimmy has the ability to play 3B also.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    I dont see RAJ going with an unproven Brown if Victorino is traded. It is not the way of the” RAJ” to go with a guy with no to little MLB experience to be a starter. I know he is giving Mayberry the shot at that but i thinks its more because RAJ couldnt get another guy in there. Utley is ours to his contract runs out and so is Howard. I believe Rollins could possibly play 3B in 2 years if he had to. However then you had a average hitting 3B with a possible light hitting SS in Galvis.

  • Posts: 0 Psujoe

    Phils had a luxury with no power at 3rd because Utley was way above average for 2b. Seems like that’s changing. Going to be very important for Chuck to use his bench to rest Polanco and Utley. Wigginton should get a lot of starts.

    Minny mart will not be on the 25 man roster.

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