Rollins, Phillies at an impasse

Updated: November 27, 2011, 11:07 AM ET
By Buster Olney

Jimmy Rollins turns 33 years old today, and even if he doesn't play another game in his career, he'll have had a pretty good run. He's won three Gold Gloves and an MVP award and served as a centerpiece on a championship team. Sometime in 2012 he may collect his 2,000th career hit and his 400th career stolen base, and it's possible that in 2013 he will hit his 200th homer.

Within the echelon of shortstops, in which a 93 OPS+ can get you into the Hall of Fame, Rollins is among the best players of his generation at his position, and yes, he is building a case as a borderline candidate for induction at Cooperstown. Remember, most of his at-bats have come since baseball implemented serious testing for performance-enhancing drugs in 2006.

So Rollins is in a unique position as a free agent this fall. He is a legacy player for the Philadelphia Phillies, as some in their organization believe, and if he re-signs he'll probably become their all-time hit leader sometime in 2014. Outside of Jose Reyes, Rollins is easily the best available shortstop on the free-agent market, as many teams are scrambling for shortstops -- the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, New York Mets and, yes, the Phillies.

Rollins has said he wants a five-year deal, something the Phillies don't want to give him. His numbers declined every season from 2007 to 2010, but he put the brakes on that in 2011, posting a .736 OPS. The backbone of his value can be found in his defense: At one of the game's most crucial positions, he is regarded as one of the best.