San Francisco Giants: Will Jimmy Rollins Make the Opening Day Roster?
The San Francisco Giants signed veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins to a minor league deal this offseason. Can he make the Opening Day roster?
Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins is not ready to retire yet. J-Roll is hopeful he can make his way onto the San Francisco Giants Opening Day roster. The 38-year-old has set some high expectations for the 2017 season especially considering how poorly last year ended.
As he did in 2016, Rollins agreed to a minor league deal with the Giants this offseason. Last year it was the Chicago White Sox who gave him a chance. Rollins performed well in Spring Training, but once the games counted he take a few steps backward. He ended his 41-game tenure with the White Sox with a .221/.295/.329 batting line. Maybe more upsetting, it was his second straight year with a negative defensive WAR. For Rollins to falter in that area was a sure sign of his decline.
Rollins’ struggles can hardly be written off as a one year fluke. He put up very similar numbers in 2015 as the Los Angeles Dodgers primary shortstop. The difference was the Dodgers allowed him to figure things out over 563 plate appearances. Rollins never did, which is why he was not invited back for another season.
This year, Rollins will not have the same opportunity the Dodgers and White Sox provided. With them, he was the stopgap between Corey Seager and Tim Anderson. The Giants, meanwhile, are secure at shortstop for several years with Brandon Crawford. Rollins’ role in San Francisco would be on the bench as a utility infielder asked to play multiple positions.
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Asking Rollins to work as a utility man is completely new territory. Throughout his career, Rollins has played shortstop for all but one-third of an inning when he manned second base in 2002. Surely, even at this age, the four-time Gold Glove winner can figure things out. First, he needs to get his way onto the big league roster.
Rollins has a challenge ahead of him. The Giants already have Kelby Tomlinson and Conor Gillaspie on the roster expected to back up their infielders. Each hit far better for the Giants last year than Rollins has for several seasons. The last time Rollins even hit .250 was in his penultimate season with the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2013.
Prior to signing with the Giants this offseason, Rollins had heard from them once before. After the White Sox released him last summer the two sides were in contact. The Giants only had an opportunity for Rollins on a minor league deal which he declined at the time. Now, hopeful that he can once again perform well enough in Spring Training, Rollins was willing to say “yes” the second time around. The odds are not in his favor.
If he wants to see MLB action again, Rollins may have to accept an assignment to Triple-A to start the year. His best years are well behind him and this is probably the year he realizes this fact.