Philadelphia has already exercised next season’s $8.5 million option on Jimmy Rollins, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday that the Phillies have no plans to negotiate a long-term extension right now:
I think we’ll probably let things, at this time, play out. There’s some concern about his production the last couple of years. He’s a much better player than he’s played. We just have to make sure he’s healthy.
Rollins turns 32 years old next month, missed half of this season with injuries, and has hit just .248 with a .304 on-base percentage and .406 slugging percentage during the past two years. His situation is somewhat similar to Derek Jeter’s in New York, albeit on a much lesser scale. Rollins has played his entire 11-year career in Philadelphia, winning the MVP in 2007 and ranking as one of the best players in team history, but he’s also getting old for a shortstop and hasn’t been productive offensively since 2008.
I’m sure Amaro and the Phillies would love to keep him in Philadelphia beyond 2011, but committing to Rollins into his mid-30s just doesn’t make much sense at this point unless he’s willing to take a significant pay cut to make it happen. It could mean losing him next offseason, but the Phillies are right to make Rollins play for his next contract.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.