A former Philadelphia Phillies iconic player from their recent championship run finally signed to play in the 2016 season.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins signed a minor league contract today with the Chicago White Sox, and will compete in spring training for their starting role at the position.
While the deal is a minor league one, it comes with that invitation to spring training, where Rollins will compete with Tyler Saladino and Leury Garcia. The White Sox allowed their starting shortstop for the last eight seasons, Alexei Ramirez, to leave via free agency in the off-season. Ramirez signed last month with the San Diego Padres.
Per Colleen Kane with the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox’ general manager Rich Hahn sees Rollins’ talent and status as a veteran leader of equal value to their ball club.
“We envision Jimmy contributing both on and off the field,” Hahn said in a statement, per Kane. “He provides us with another quality infield option with the potential to play a variety of roles, as well as another significant positive presence inside our clubhouse.”
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The Chisox hope to contend in the American League Central Division after beefing up their offense with the signing of free agent left fielder Melky Cabrera, and the addition of both 3rd baseman Todd Frazier and 2nd baseman Brett Lawrie via trade.
Chicago finished in 4th place in the AL Central a year ago with a 76-86 record, 19 games behind the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals. The division should be especially tough this year, with the Detroit Tigers looking to bounce back, the Minnesota Twins an up-and-comer, and the Cleveland Indians also expecting to contend.
The White Sox also have to compete in their own market, as the crosstown Chicago Cubs have emerged as National League favorites with a roster that features a number of high-profile and talented youngsters.
Other former ’08 Phillies remaining in the game include Cole Hamels, traded by the Phils to Texas last season. Chase Utley has re-signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for one season. Jayson Werth remains with the Washington Nationals in a contract that takes him through the 2017 season.
Ryan Madson won the World Series with Kansas City a year ago, and is signed through 2018 with the Royals. Shane Victorino expects to play this season, but remains a free agent. He has been linked to the Rangers in recent days. And of course, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz remain with the Phillies for now.
Per MLB insider Ken Rosenthal on his Twitter feed, Rollins had other offers to play in 2016 in a “Super Utility” role for even more money.
During his 15 seasons with the Phils, the popular ‘JRoll’ became the franchise’ all-time Hits leader, and was the leader of the 2008 World Series champion and five consecutive NL East champs.
Rollins won the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player Award, was a 4x Gold Glover, 3x NL All-Star, and also took home the 2007 NL Silver Slugger at shortstop.
The Phillies traded Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 19th, 2014 in exchange for pitchers Zach Eflin and Tom Windle. We named Eflin as our Phillies #8 prospect in our TBOH Top 10 Phillies Prospects feature earlier in the month, and Windle was named in our “the Field” grouping for the team’s #10 prospect.
The now 37-year old Rollins hit for just a .224/.285/.358 slash line in LA, with 13 homers, 12 steals, and 71 runs scored in 563 plate appearances. He was supplanted in the starting lineup at the end by the Dodgers’ uber prospect Corey Seager.
If Rollins does win the starting job in Chicago, keeps it, and is healthy at the time, he would return to Citizens Bank Park for a quick two-game series when the Chisox visit on September 20th and 21st.