Sources: Jimmy Rollins must lead

Updated: March 19, 2014, 3:00 PM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

Jimmy Rollins was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1996, has played his entire career with the team and has won a league MVP award and a World Series title.

But there is strong sentiment within the organization that the Phillies would be better off trading him and establishing a new tone with a new shortstop, according to sources.

There is one major hurdle -- perhaps insurmountable -- to any potential deal, of course. Rollins has the right to veto any trade proposals, and he intends to stay. Rollins told CSN Philly on Sunday that he won't waive his no-trade rights anytime soon, indicating that he'd like to break Mike Schmidt's franchise record for hits. Rollins has 2,175 hits, 60 shy of Schmidt.

Rollins was benched on three successive days last week by Ryne Sandberg, who is entering his first full season as the Phillies' manager. The two talked and Sandberg downplayed the notion of a rift.

"[He's] an important part of the team," Sandberg told MLB.com. "He's got his role on the team as a veteran player, and he comes into spring training in very good shape every year, and he has again this year. He's got his playing time and at-bats coming up. It's also a long season playing up the middle, so with him and Chase [Utley], I'm careful with their days. I know the grind of a season, and Jimmy plays over 150 games a year. It's the time of the spring right now where he'll have some time [off] down the stretch."

However, sources indicate that some in influential positions in the organization want Rollins to be a leader by investing himself more thoroughly in daily work and setting a strong example for others. If Rollins isn't going to do that, the sentiment of some is that the team would be better off moving him as soon as possible.

Rollins, 35, will make $11 million this year, and with 434 plate appearances in 2014, an $11 million option for the 2015 season would vest.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

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