Jimmy Rollins

Jimmy Rollins and his desire for a five-year deal


According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies and free agent Jimmy Rollins are talking, but Rollins is still asking for a five-year contract, meaning a quick resolution probably isn’t on the way.

Rollins is coming off something of a bounce-back season at age 32, having hit .268/.338/.399 in 567 at-bats. That was good for a 101 OPS+ (OPS adjusted for league and ballpark, with the average player coming in at 100). He finished at 87 and 85 in the two seasons prior to that. Those were two of his three lowest marks in his 12 years as a big leaguer.

Rollins still has considerable value as an everyday shortstop, but given that he appears well past his prime offensively, a three-year deal would surely be much more attractive to the Phillies. They could well get burned if they commit to him for his age-36 and 37 seasons now.

But what is the risk? Here’s a glance at how the players deemed most comparable to Rollins after their age-32 seasons performed at 36 and 37. I’m not going in depth here, just a quick look at their OPS+ and playing time for those two seasons. The player list is from Baseball-Reference.com.

Alan Trammell: 84 in 292 AB, 82 in 223 AB|
Craig Biggio: 88 in 577 AB, 96 in 628 AB
Joe Morgan: 115 in 461 AB, 115 in 308 AB
Dick Bartrell: Out of baseball
Lou Whitaker: 133 in 383 AB, 121 in 322 AB
Ryne Sandberg: 96 in 554 AB, 83 in 447 AB
Edgar Renteria: N/A
Derek Jeter: 90 in 663 AB, 97 in 546 AB
Travis Jackson: Out of baseball
Ray Durham: 113 in 370 AB, retired

It’s not quite as ugly as I thought it might be. The problem is that Rollins simply isn’t as good as most of the players on this list. He has a 97 OPS+ through age 32. Trammell, who should be in the Hall of Fame, was at 114. Biggio was at 125, and Morgan was at a whopping 140.

Rollins is more comparable to Renteria, but that’s not fair either. Renteria, who plays next year at 36, had his last good season at 30. Durham was a similar hitter to Rollins, and while he was out of baseball at 37, it certainly wasn’t because of his bat. Rollins has a lot in common offensively with former outfielder Marquis Grissom, who was just as good as ever at ages 36 and 37.

I suspect that Rollins will be a below average regular by the time 2015 rolls around, but he probably won’t be a big liability. The Phillies can afford to compromise and give him a four-year deal, solidifying their shortstop situation while they still rank among the game’s best teams these next couple of seasons. Things will likely get ugly in Philadelphia come 2015 anyway, so throwing an extra $15 million of so Rollins’ way that year shouldn’t wreak too much havoc.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.