12/19/11 4:38 PM EST
Three-year deal keeps Rollins with Phillies
Contract worth $33 million with vesting option for fourth year
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
He figured he would be back in Philadelphia at some point.
The Phillies made it official Monday, signing Rollins -- the longest-tenured professional athlete in Philadelphia -- to three-year, $33 million contract, senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced. The contract includes a vesting option for 2015 at $11 million that, if not vested, could be a club option at $8 million or a player option at $5 million.
Rollins seemed to be in fine spirits in a telephone conversation Saturday evening with MLB.com.
"I'm glad that it's over," Rollins said. "Negotiations take time and both parties usually get a good idea where a finish line can be. It usually takes time to get there, but we got there."
Rollins entered the offseason proclaiming he wanted a five-year contract, while the Phils wanted him signed to a three-year deal. But with the option easily reachable, he feels he essentially met the Phillies halfway. There had been indications Rollins became frustrated with the negotiations, but if Rollins had any hard feelings about the process, he certainly did not express them Saturday.
"I wasn't upset at the pace," Rollins said. "I was glad it took awhile, because both sides were showing that they care. This is a business. There is a sports side of it and a business side of it, and the business side of it is always the most difficult part. Making sure that the numbers fit and the years fit and that both parties can be happy going forward is how business is. This is where we both sit, and both parties feel comfortable going forward.
"The tough part is you've got to stick to your guns and they've got to stick to their guns. You negotiate. If I hadn't started so high, then we probably would have been looking at a two-year deal with a vesting option for three. People that understand business, they get it."
Rollins said he had a four-year offer from the Milwaukee Brewers but preferred the familiarity of Philadelphia and its long-term benefits.
Like making a run at the Hall of Fame.
"It's tough to go to a new team not knowing what the future is going to be over there," he said. "I've been here for a long time and I see what's been going on here, especially the last five years. You go to something uncertain or you stay somewhere that you're familiar with and you know the situation and what the organization is about. Is the money tempting? Always. ... We have to think as athletes: 'I'm going to get money to go there and I'm going to get money to stay here. OK, that's a wash. Where do I have the best chance of winning and to hopefully one day be on the [Hall of Fame] ballot?' For me, it was here. I've been here, and I just feel the more you're in the playoffs the more you have a chance to be recognized as a great player in the future and hopefully make the ballot."
Phillies president David Montgomery and Amaro had said a few times during the offseason that it is difficult to picture life without Rollins, whom the Phils drafted in the second round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft. They won't have to think about that again until at least 2014.
Interestingly, Rollins was the only significant player to re-sign with his team this offseason. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson joined the Angels, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle joined the Marlins, Jonathan Papelbon left the Red Sox for the Phillies and Michael Cuddyer left the Twins for the Rockies. And while they remain unsigned, Prince Fielder and Ryan Madson are expected to leave the Brewers and Phils, respectively.
Had Rollins gone elsewhere, it would have been a blow to a team with World Series aspirations. They likely would have had Freddy Galvis play shortstop. Galvis was the organization's 2011 Minor League Player of the Year, but he is nowhere near as accomplished as Rollins, who won the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player Award.
"I'm very excited," Rollins said. "It's going to be a little different without the Big Piece [Ryan Howard, who is expected to miss time recovering from left Achilles surgery] ... but we've added some guys that play the game right. You still have to score runs to win ballgames. Between the pitching and playing the game right, we scored enough runs to win. You don't just get wins by having great pitching. Of course, I'm going to stand up for the offense. But if I have to choose a great offense or a great pitching staff, I'm going with a great pitching staff. That's what we have."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.