The fireworks have stopped and the champagne glasses have been put away. Jimmy Rollins has overtaken Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt as the Phillies’ all-time leader with 2,235 hits.
Now, the question that has quietly lingered in the background becomes louder.
How much longer will Rollins be a Phillie?
Would the 35-year-old shortstop waive his full no-trade rights if the team asked him to?
Rollins’ name has been floated about in trade talks each of the last two summers, and both times he pre-emptively said there was no way he’d waive his no-trade rights. He said he liked playing in Philadelphia, said he wanted to play his whole career in the city, and admitted there were personal goals he wanted to reach with the Phillies.
One of those goals was the team’s all-time hits record, which he set Saturday. In spring training this year, when his name popped up again in trade speculation, Rollins admitted the hits record was important to him and he re-stated his stance that he would not give up his no-trade rights.
But Rollins left the door cracked a little bit when asked whether he might rethink his stance once he broke the record.
“I don’t know,” Rollins told CSNPhilly.com that day in March. “If we’re in absolutely last place with nowhere to go and change is obviously on the horizon, then at that point I’d think about it. But anything short of a complete disaster, I’m wearing red and white pinstripes.”
The Phillies have been languishing at or near the bottom of the NL East standings most of the season and have been above .500 for just five days since last year’s all-star break. They’d be dead and buried in the standings if the NL East weren’t such a flawed division with no team really establishing itself yet. After Saturday’s win over the Cubs, the Phils would be no more than 6½ games back in the division at day’s end.
This has given the Phillies some hope. But is it false hope? That’s the question general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff ponder every day as it weighs the decision to trade off players and start a rebuilding effort or keep the team together and hope for a run.
Six weeks remain before the non-waiver trade deadline. A month remains before the All-Star break. The Phillies will have to get really hot to convince management to hold on to players.
Rollins would be of interest to a contending team looking for an upgrade at shortstop. He won’t come cheap as he is owed the remainder of his $11 million salary for this season and is just 156 plate appearances from guaranteeing his contract for $11 million next season. But Amaro is on record as saying the Phillies would eat salary if they went in a rebuilding direction and the deal was beneficial to the club’s future.
The question remains: Would Rollins OK a deal?
Would he leave Philadelphia, the only big-league baseball home he has known?
Once again Saturday, he left the door open to the possibility.
“It really depends if everything is blown up,” he said. “Then you take that into consideration. If they blow everything up, then of course.”
So there’s that: Rollins has definitely softened his stance on being traded. He at least would listen to the possibility.
But his preference is to remain with the Phillies and try to put together a run here.
“Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that right now,” he said. “But if that time does come, and it’s time to go … people move on.
“We have six weeks,” he said. “We can make it difficult on Ruben.
"The division hasn’t gotten away from us at all yet. Hopefully we have a little magic left.”