The Phillies and Jimmy Rollins—after much posturing and prancing from both sides—came to agreement on a 3-year, $33 million contract with a vesting option for a fourth year at $11 million.
In their current state, the Phillies couldn’t let Rollins leave; they’re a veteran team and he’s acknowledged as their leader; they’re built to win now. Because of their age and financial circumstances, they couldn’t have gone after Jose Reyes and they don’t have the prospects in their gutted farm system to get Hanley Ramirez if the Marlins put him on the market. There was no one else out there who could reasonably replicate Rollins on the field and be the overt leader in the clubhouse.
Rollins enjoys being the center of attention; while his brash ways work in Philadelphia, he might be seen as a bad fit or unwanted interloper if he’d gone to the Tigers or Giants.
Clubhouse chemistry is a fragile thing; teams with established leaders and old-school managers might’ve viewed Rollins as a distraction rather than an addition.
The Phillies roster is permeated by players who want to be left alone to do their jobs. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard—none are the media attractions that Rollins is and without him there, a void would be created that might place people into uncomfortable situations of having to speak for the team.
Rollins is more than willing to be the lightning rod with outrageous statements and the hardware of having backed those statements up.
He can still hit, run and catch the ball—the last possibly being the most important with the Phillies pitching staff.
For the Phillies, the days of GM Ruben Amaro Jr. trying to straddle the line of trying to win and maintaining the farm system ended when he traded Halladay for Lee.
It doesn’t work.
The best way to maintain the current strategy for the next three years are with Rollins at shortstop.
In the end, there were two questions that guaranteed Rollins’s return:
Where was Rollins going to go?
What were the Phillies going to do if he left?
There’s no good answer to either.
Both sides realized this long ago; they did their free agent dance so neither would lose face in the deal; and they hammered out a contract that makes sense.