I'm sure there are many reasons why a trade for Jimmy Rollins isn't going to happen, but the first one that comes to mind is that Jimmy is a 10-and-5 guy which means he can't be traded without his consent. He's on the record as late as March 17th saying he's not going to waive his no trade rights.
But, things aren't exactly rainbows and puppy dogs in Philly when it comes to Rollins. He's butting heads with Ryne Sandberg in spring training, talk of the Phils trying to get rid of him at some point this season is heating up, and if the Phillies are really concerned about his option vesting it's not outside the realm of possibility that they'd have him split time at short with Freddy Galvis in an effort to limit his at bats through the first half of the season which could make for a disgruntled Jimmy Rollins.
With this in mind, it might not be outside the realm of possibility that a trade could happen, especially as we move further into the season. It's not highly likely, but it's got better than a Lloyd Christmas kind of chance of happening. Couple this with the fact that I'm bored, and I've been thinking about writing my first Fanpost for some time, I figure hey, why not take a closer look?
So, what are you getting with Jimmy Rollins? Let's start with the offense. He maintained basically the same batting average as he did in 2012, but the .250 average was a bit of a drop off from the .263 he posted in 2011. His stolen bases were down from 2012 to 2013 as well. He swiped 22 bags in 2013 which was 8 less than thirty he put up the previous two seasons. Where he really dropped off was his power numbers hitting only 6 home runs with a .348 slugging percentage. His K rate is also up to 14% over the last two seasons where it hadn't been above 10 since 2007. So, it's probably safe to say his age is catching up to him. That said, his projected WAR is right around 2, and he's still probably good for low double digit home runs and twenty steals.
How does he stack up defensively? This is an area I'm admittedly not well versed in, so feel free to let me know how badly I assess this situation. Rollins has historically been known as a good defender. For a guy whose UZR hasn't been in the negative since 2002, last years -2.7 is disappointing. Considering his stats have declined in speed related categories in general we could be looking at an average to just below average defensive shortstop going forward.
The pessimist (or some would say realist) would say you're getting a 35 year old player on the back end of a career in which he relied on speed and power to maintain his success, and both of those things are now fading fast, if they're not gone already. Your inner optimist would probably point to the dismal offense in Philadelphia, and argue that it was a down year, and not necessarily indicative of a looming slide into mediocrity. It's possible we could be looking at a little bit of both here.
Now that we've got some kind of idea what sort of player he is, let's take a look at his contract. The Phillies extended him for three years in 2011 at 11 million a year. What looked like a good deal at the time now has quite a few Phils fans questioning the move. The deal has an automatic vesting option if Rollins gets to 434 at bats this season. If he doesn't hit the requisite at bats there's a club option for 8 million and a player option for 5 million. Say what you will about Ruben Amaro (like thank god he's not anywhere near the Tigers organization), but he's probably sharp enough to figure out he's not too interested in letting that option vest. This could point to a healthy dose of Freddy Galvis to limit J Roll's at bats, which probably contributes to Rollins not being super pleased with the current state of his playing time and being more open to a trade.
To bring all this together, Rollins is certainly not the player he used to be, but he's still not all that terrible. He'll probably give you right around average defense and be good for 10-12 homeruns and 20 stolen bases. His contract could work in Detroit's favor as well. Detroit could approach Philadelphia about a trade right now and see how it goes, but 11 million is a lot of money for a guy they might not need and could lock himself into another year Detroit isn't interested in paying, and at the moment Rollins doesn't seem open to going anywhere.
There is another approach that probably makes more sense. Let's say the Tigers start out with a platoon at short. If one of those guys steps up, or if they cut it as a platoon then all's well and good, but if a month or so passes and the Tigers find themselves in a situation where they need to do something, there's a chance they'll find a fairly disgruntled Rollins unhappy with splitting time at short, playing for a lackluster Phillies squad, and finding himself more open to a trade to a team with a shot at contending for the World Series. At this point Detroit has a much better chance of picking him up, and if he performs well enough and sees enough plate appearances for the option to vest then maybe he's worth it. If not they can limit his at bats (which the Phils may have already done a pretty good job of doing anyway) by platooning him, or working Iglesias back in when and if he's ready near the end of the season.
In an ideal situation Rollins comes over in May or June, contributes through the season but doesn't get to 434 at bats, and the Tigers and Rollins part ways at the end of the year. Detroit gets a rental for 2014 and the ability to put Iglesias back into the full time spot when he's healthy, and Rollins gets to showcase his talents on a contending team for the season and hopefully up his value for 2015.
As to who they'd have to give up to get Rollins, if it would be worth it, and whether they'd even be smart to do it are all questions I'm not going to try to answer.