Philadelphia Phillies fans can now rejoice, for the longest tenured member of the team will be coming back for 2012 and beyond, as Jimmy Rollins agreed to a three year contract worth $33 million, according to Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. The contract also includes a vesting option for a fourth season,
Despite some initial skepticism that the Phillies could retain the services of the shortstop, who was seeking a five-year deal, the market for his services dried up fairly quickly, as potential suitors like the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers finding their shortstops elsewhere.
The 33-year-old, who had a .268/.338/.399 line in 2011 with 16 homers and 30 steals, is the last big piece to the puzzle to the 2012 roster, and provides the Phillies with a big load of relief, as it's one less position with any offensive concerns. Even though Rollins isn't the hitter he was a few seasons ago, his presence in the lineup would have been sorely missed if, say, Wilson Valdez was the everyday shortstop. And from the other side of the ball, Rollins is still an elite defensive shortstop, and should continue to be over the life of the deal.
The length and dollars of the deal are very team-friendly, as it allows them to have additional financial flexibility over the next few seasons, while allowing Freddy Galvis, the 21-year-old shortstop currently with the Triple A team, to continue to work on his development in the minor leagues. Although there were some rumblings that he might get the nod on Opening Day if Rollins didn't return, this move allows him to fully mature at the minor league level before taking over for Rollins at the end of the current deal.
However, my hat is tipped to Ruben Amaro, who very easily could have botched this signing. While he tends to pull the trigger rather quickly without fully letting the market establish itself, like he did with Jonathan Papelbon, he let the situation with Rollins play out as other shortstops got snatched up elsewhere, until there was only one option left for Jimmy.
All told, it's a very good deal for Jimmy, the team, and the fans. Rollins gets to stay with the team he came up with, the fans get one of their favorites back, and the team gets one more piece to the puzzle that will hopefully be a parade in 2012.