Amaro Crosses Rollins Off Checklist

19 Dec

CITIZENS BANK PARK — Beard and all, Santa Amaro sat at the podium having just crossed the last item off his list. First he got Jonathan Papelbon. Now he has a shortstop, too.

The package was nearly delivered to the wrong house. Jimmy Rollins re-signed with the Phillies for three years and $33 million with a vesting option for a fourth year at $11 million as well. But the 33-year-old said he nearly ended up with the Milwaukee Brewers.

“It was more money guaranteed, even another year guaranteed, but with the way that the vesting option is, if I get on the field, it will be four years here,” said Rollins. “And it ends up being a little more money, also.

“I can’t really say that I didn’t think it wouldn’t happen here. Obviously the Phillies were gonna get the last pull. I wasn’t gonna make a decision without letting Ruben and the Phillies know ‘this is what we have. Can we do something?’ If that was the case, I’d be in the Midwest wearing blue and gold right now.”

Instead, Rollins gets an encore. It’s been 11 years for the shortstop in Philadelphia, enough time for him to be the longest-tenured professional athlete in the city. From the 1996 draft, Rollins has never left. His three-year deal has a very good chance to turn into a four-year deal.

“There are things that Jimmy would have to do that he’s done pretty much every single year in his career to be able to vest that fourth option,” said Amaro. “There’s a vesting option, a club option, and also a player option, so in some ways there is a guarantee for four if Jimmy wanted it.

“There are some tiers to it, but the fact of the matter is I fully expect Jimmy to play four years at least here. If Jimmy continues to do what he’s been doing and plays and participates the way he has over the last 11 years, he’s pretty certain he’s gonna be playing for at least four years here.”

Rollins said he couldn’t imagine doing leaving for another team and feeling like a “rented player” having not started the process of making a team championship caliber as he has in Philadelphia.

“Jimmy’s got the opportunity to be one of the greatest Phillies of all time,” said Amaro. “It’s pretty special when a player can stay with one organization, especially in this day and age, like Jimmy has and you never know, hopefully we’ll do this again in a few years.”

If Rollins does stay another four years, he will be 37 when the newest deal ends. And even then, he says he might not be done.

“Ruben’s a tough guy. That’s why he’s the GM and he did a great job,” said Rollins. “My agent did a great job. We were able to work through things and get a fair deal. That’s what I said from the beginning. Years and money that makes sense for both sides. That’s what we were able to do, stay here for the next four years, and then maybe have another conference just to wrap up the rest of my career.”

The three-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and former NL MVP has a .272 career batting average with 170 home runs and 725 RBI in 1,636 games, all with the Phillies. He has been the face of the franchise for years and didn’t want his trademarked smile to be under any other team’s Christmas tree.

As for the Phillies’ tree, it sounds as though all the gifts are there. Maybe there will be a last-minute stocking stuffer or two, but it sounds like the table is set.

“We’re keeping our minds open and our eyes open, but I’m very comfortable with the club we have going into spring training,” said Santa Amaro. “We think that we’re gonna be healthy other than a delay on Ryan [Howard]. I like our club a lot. I think we’re one of the best clubs in the National League and I know we’ll be contending again this year.

“That’s our job is to try to make sure we’re contenders every year and I think with the club we have on the field right now, hopefully, barring injury obviously, we’ll be there.”

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