The former NL MVP and three-time All-Star shortstop was officially traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, the first major step in a rebuilding process for a team that's been on a steady decline for three years.
Next to go could be three-time All-Star lefty Cole Hamels, 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard and six-time All-Star second baseman Chase Utley. Right fielder Marlon Byrd, catcher Carlos Ruiz and former AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee also are available.
"Jimmy is both an iconic player and person whom I have had the great joy of watching grow up in this game and this city," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "His contributions to the franchise and to Philadelphia are unparalleled and I wish him the best in Los Angeles. This transaction is one that I believe benefits both Jimmy and the Phillies."
The Phillies got right-hander Zach Eflin and left-hander Tom Windle in the deal agreed to last week at the winter meetings and announced a day after the Dodgers completed a trade that sent slugging outfielder Matt Kemp to San Diego.
Rollins leaves as the franchise leader in hits (2,306) and doubles (479) and ranks second in games played (2,090), extra-base hits (806), stolen bases (453) and total bases (3,655). He won four Gold Glove Awards, hit 216 homers, had 887 RBIs and batted .267 in 15 seasons.
But Rollins is best known for his swagger more than his unique skills.
The Phillies hadn't won anything in 14 years when Rollins boldly proclaimed they were the team to beat in the NL East before the 2007 season. Then the switch-hitting, leadoff hitter backed that up by having an MVP year, and helping the Phillies overcome a seven-game deficit with 17 to play to catch the New York Mets. That started Philadelphia's streak of postseason appearances.
Rollins hasn't come close to matching the numbers he put up in 2007 — .296 average, 30 homers, 94 RBIs, 20 triples, 41 steals. But he's still an excellent fielder with extra-base pop and even showed more patience at the plate last year by drawing a career-high 64 walks.
"The Dodgers are very lucky to acquire a player like Jimmy," Utley said. "I've said it time and time again that Jimmy makes everyone around him better. The team will miss his leadership on the field and his infectious smile, but most of all, I will miss our pregame handshake."
The 36-year-old Rollins was the longest-tenured athlete in the city after making his major league debut on Sept. 17, 2000. He helped the Phillies to 11 winning seasons in 12 years, five straight division titles, two NL pennants and the 2008 World Series title.
Rollins was the clubhouse leader, a guy who kept teammates loose and always had a smile on his face. He drew Charlie Manuel's ire a few times when he didn't run out popups, but was one of the former manager's favorite players.
The Phillies finished last in 2014 for the first time since 2000, despite a team-record payroll over $180 million. Management has said it doesn't expect to contend before 2017 and is trying to acquire younger players for high-priced veterans.
Hamels has the most value in the trade market followed by Byrd. Howard's contract — he's owed $60 million — makes it difficult to move the slugging first baseman unless the Phillies pay a significant part of his salary. Lee finished the year on the disabled list so he has to prove he's healthy. Utley has a no-trade clause, so he would have to accept a deal.
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