Rollins temporarily on back burner at winter baseball talks

"There's a big chance that Jimmy [Rollins] is going to be back ," said Phils manager Charlie Manuel. "I think its going to get done."
"There's a big chance that Jimmy [Rollins] is going to be back ," said Phils manager Charlie Manuel. "I think its going to get done." (LM OTERO / Associated Press)
Posted: December 07, 2011

DALLAS - When their 75-minute meeting with agent Dan Lozano ended Tuesday, Miami Marlins executives raced through the crowded lobby of the Hilton Anatole with reporters chasing and onlookers pointing.

The Albert Pujols sweepstakes consumed this day for Lozano, who also represents Jimmy Rollins. And thus, the Phillies' offseason was put on hold for a day.

But that did not keep optimism from seeping through the ranks of Phillies officials. The reason was a much less publicized meeting with Lozano late Monday night after earlier talks that had soured.

"We had a nice meeting," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "There is not really much to report other than we had a good discussion about some things."

Charlie Manuel, who arrived Tuesday afternoon, went a step further.

"There's a big chance that Jimmy is going to be back with us," the Phillies manager said. "I feel that way, and I think it's going to get done."

The sticking point remains the length of a deal. Rollins has maintained his desire for a five-year contract, and a baseball source said that Jose Reyes' six-year, $106 million deal inflated Rollins' value in the shortstop's eyes. Rollins, 33, is five years older than Reyes.

The Rollins camp has publicly kept quiet. Lozano's priority was negotiating a 10-year deal for Pujols. Rollins tweeted a link to a photo of new Nikes that arrived at his house Tuesday.

Manuel said he spoke to Rollins a week ago on two occasions.

"I think that he wants to remain a Phillie," Manuel said. "There's still some time, and there's still some thinking, and he's probably looking. Jimmy can be a spur-of-the-moment guy sometimes. You know, he'll wake up one morning and say, 'Hey, I'm staying a Phillie.' That's kind of who he is."

It might be Rollins' best option. There is a limited market for the shortstop, and no substantial offers were believed to have been made. The Milwaukee Brewers are interested in Rollins, but likely not a five-year deal. If St. Louis loses Pujols, it could turn to Rollins for added offense at shortstop.

The Phillies have used these winter meetings to explore alternatives to Rollins, too. They have engaged Aramis Ramirez's agent. Acquiring the third baseman would force a trade of Placido Polanco, who is owed $7.25 million in 2012, and a new shortstop. Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, said Tuesday he had no new talks scheduled with the Phillies.

Still, the team's preference is to avoid that scenario and re-sign Rollins. So, whether it's because of the player or agent, the Phillies are content to wait with a perceived advantage in negotiations.

"Jimmy has every right to feel prideful about what he's done in his career," Amaro said. "I absolutely understand. He feels he has great worth, and he should feel that way. It's a matter of us getting to the right place where we think the worth is the same."

Amaro said if he is able to re-sign Rollins, it will likely be the last offensive addition to the club. Amaro and Manuel had dinner Tuesday night with Laynce Nix in Dallas, and the outfielder's two-year, $2.5 million deal is expected to be finalized this week.

The rest of the winter hinges on Rollins' decision. Amaro would like a resolution sooner rather than later, but he's in no hurry.

"Jimmy wants to be a Phillie," Amaro said. "The Phillies want Jimmy to be our shortstop."

They just don't see eye-to-eye on how long the next marriage should last - yet.


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or @magelb on Twitter.

 

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