Rollins Era Officially Ends
The Phillies announced this morning they have traded the greatest shortstop in franchise history and cash to the Dodgers for Minor League pitchers Zach Eflin and Tom Windle. The deal ends a 15-year run for Rollins from 2000-14 that included one World Series championship, two National League pennants, five NL East titles, one NL MVP, three NL All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger Award, memorable predictions and proclamations, a 38-game hitting streak and a franchise record 2,306 hits.
“Jimmy is both an iconic player and person whom I have had the great joy of watching grow up in this game and this city,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “His contributions to the franchise and to Philadelphia are unparalleled and I wish him the best in Los Angeles. This transaction is one that I believe benefits both Jimmy and the Phillies.”
“The Dodgers are very lucky to acquire a player like Jimmy,” Chase Utley said in a statement. “I’ve said it time and time again that Jimmy makes everyone around him better. The team will miss his leadership on the field and his infectious smile, but most of all, I will miss our pre-game handshake.”
Everybody knew last week Rollins’ time had come to an end as the Phillies rebuild for the future. The Phillies and Dodgers agreed to the deal at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, but the Dodgers first needed to acquire Eflin from the Padres. The Dodgers agreed to send Matt Kemp and $32 million to San Diego for Eflin and others, with the Dodgers flipping Eflin to the Phillies.
But the Padres had concerns this week about Kemp’s physical, which delayed the announcement.
That said, the Phillies-Dodgers trade was never in jeopardy. The Phillies wanted Eflin, but a source said the Phillies would have settled on another player if the Kemp trade fizzled.
Rollins waived his 10-and-5 rights to leave the Phillies, who have said publicly they do not expect to contend again until 2017 at the earliest.
The Phillies hope Eflin and Windle help rebuild an organization that lost 89 games and finished last in the NL East for the first time since 2000, despite a franchise-record payroll of more than $180 million.
MLB.com ranked Eflin as the No. 10 prospect in San Diego’s system. Its report said Eflin has the “look of a future middle-of-the-rotation workhorse.” Windle ranked No. 7 in the Dodgers organization. MLB.com said Windle has a ceiling as a No. 2 or 3 starter, if he can improve his changeup and command.
“We are very happy to add two top-tier starting pitching prospects who we believe will impact our major league club in the near future,” Amaro said. “This deal is clearly geared to continue the process of building for perennial future success.”
But there is no immediately replacing Rollins, who is the franchise’s all-time leader in hits and doubles (479) and ranks second in games played (2,090), extra-base hits (806), stolen bases (453) and total bases (3,655).
He provided fans with a memorable career that began in 1996, when the Phillies drafted him in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft.
Rollins, 36, made his big-league debut in 2000 and tripled in his first game. He provided countless memories after that, with his walkoff hit in Game 4 of the 2009 National League Championship Series against the Dodgers ranking near the top. Of course, Rollins also caused his managers and fans some occasional frustration. His candor rubbed a few people the wrong way at times, and his occasional lack of hustle got him benched a few others.
But Rollins will finish his career with a chance to make the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a testament to his talent and durability.
He ranks 28th in baseball history among shortstops with a 45.7 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Rollins is one of only four shortstops in baseball history to have 2,000-plus hits and 200-plus home runs while playing that position. Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr. and Miguel Tejada are the others.
None of those three have 400-plus stolen bases like Rollins.
Rollins also played Gold Glove-caliber defense throughout his career, giving him a rare package of speed, power and defense.
Freddy Galvis is Rollins’ replacement for the moment, despite a career .621 OPS. The Phillies certainly hope top prospect J.P. Crawford is the long-term solution, but he is at least a year or two away from the big leagues, if he continues to progress in the Minors.
The only question now is: who’s next? The Phillies need much more than three Minor League pitchers – they acquired a third from Pittsburgh last week in a trade for left-hander Antonio Bastardo – to rebuild a once proud franchise. The Phillies are willing to trade Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz.
But trading Rollins, one of the most iconic figures in franchise history and Philadelphia professional sports history, represented a significant first step.