Time is running out for the Philadelphia Phillies as the trade deadline approaches and they have yet to work a deal to improve their team which is stuck in last place in the National League East. It’s been 12 years since the Phillies traded Scott Rolen to the St. Louis Cardinals for Placido Polanco and it stands as one of the biggest trades in Phillies history.
In the second round of the 1993 amateur draft, the Philadelphia Phillies selected a third baseman from Jasper, Indiana. Three years later on August 1st, 1996 Rolen made his big-league debut, going 1-for-4 in a 2-1 Phillies win. He played in 37 games in 1996, not making him a true rookie until 1997 when he was named the National League Rookie of the Year. With the Phillies Rolen won three Gold Glove awards and in the year he was traded to St. Louis he was named a four-time recipient at the end of the season. In 2002 he was also an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger award.
Rolen’s value in 2002 was high enough to attract many suitors and the Phillies face a similar situation this season with plenty of players who have been special to the organization.
The Polanco-Rolen switch was complimented by three pitchers: Doug Nickle, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin. None really made a big splash, especially Nickle and Smith who never saw big-league action beyond the 2002 season.
The return for the Phillies was a solid utility man who would spend seven years with the club in two different stints. As a Phillie, Polanco hit 51 home runs and had 281 RBIs with a .739 OPS. He was hardly a poor acquisition, but ultimately Rolen had the better career. Rolen also would have been more expensive to keep around. It was a chance to shed salary and retool for a future World Series win in 2008, although Polanco was not with the Phillies that year.
The last season Rolen played in the majors was 2012 and Polanco’s was 2013. Both spent seven years in Philadelphia’s organization.