DALLAS — The lobby at the Hilton Anatole was abuzz Sunday night and for the second straight year, a Phillies division foe made early noise at the winter meetings. Jose Reyes is off the board, with a six-year, $106 million deal reportedly in tow to Miami.
That, of course, leaves Jimmy Rollins as the top prize in the shortstop market. Little has changed on that front since Rollins sat in the basement at Citizens Bank Park and declared he wanted a five-year contract this winter. And if there was any option added to the deal, it would be "my option."
Reyes will earn $17.7 million annually and that's about where baseball people had him projected at the beginning of the winter. What affect it has on Rollins is likely minimal. Rollins has his demands and for now, he'll stick with them. The Phillies are hesitant to award anything above a three-year contract and will wait.
There is likely little effect because the market for Reyes appeared to be limited to the Marlins and Mets. Both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals have a need for a shortstop, but those two clubs have bigger goals. That's why Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder could have a greater effect on Rollins' fate than Reyes.
Milwaukee is interested in at least kicking the tires on Rollins. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel termed the Brewers' interest in Rollins as "serious" and reported GM Doug Melvin will meet with Rollins' agent, Dan Lozano, in Dallas. The Phillies will also hear Lozano's pitch sometime this week.
If the Brewers or Cardinals do not retain their superstar first basemen, they will have money to spend. That could be the method in which Rollins achieves a market and raises his price. Milwaukee, specifically, appears to be a wild card in the negotiations.
But for now, the Phillies see no reason to jump the gun in signing a long-term deal with Rollins. It's a strange feeling, especially for a front office that set the market with Ryan Howard's five-year, $125 million deal in early 2010 and Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50 million contract earlier this winter.
Other than Rollins' deal, the Phillies have little left to accomplish this winter. Fourteen players are guaranteed money in 2012 and five others are eligible for arbitration. Cole Hamels' extension will become a priority, probably in January. Those two sides have yet to engage in talks, but they will sometime this winter.
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