Cut loose by the Chicago White Sox last June, Jimmy Rollins spent the balance of the 2016 season working as a studio analyst on TV. The one-time MVP will spend the upcoming month of March battling for a spot on the San Francisco Giants’ bench.
According to Fox Sports, the Oakland native and graduate of Alameda’s Encinal high school, inked a minor-league contract with the Giants, which amounts to a low-risk, low-upside proposition for the National League Wild-Card winners.
Rollins, who slashed .221/.295/.329 in 41 games with the White Sox before the team designated him for assignment on June 10, will earn a $1 million base salary (and can make $1 million in incentives) if he cracks the Giants’ opening day squad, per ESPN.
At the Giants’ camp in Scottsdale, Arizona, the three-time All-Star will compete with Kelby Tomlinson and Ehire Adrianza for a backup infielder’s role on manager Bruce Bochy’s roster.
Even though Tomlinson — limited mainly to second base, third base and left field — and Adrianza — owner of a career .605 OPS — are both flawed candidates, Rollins’ resume doesn’t make him the strongest of fits for a utility-infielder gig.
Of Rollins’ 2,220 games in the field across 17 big league seasons, all but one have come at shortstop. The lone cameo at second base came way back in 2002 when he was playing in his second full season with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rollins has won three Gold Gloves at shortstop, but the most recent honor was back in 2012. The advanced numbers indicate that putting the 38-year-old at the most athletically demanding position on the diamond would be a big ask. Rollins has cost his teams runs in the field in five of the past six seasons, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
While the odds of Rollins making any meaningful impact for the Giants in 2017 remain slim, it’s worth remembering that no front office in the majors is more adept at salvaging players off the scrap heap than the brass at AT&T Park.
At the least, the signing of Rollins provides the Giants with the baseball version of the NFL’s “camp arm” while starting shortstop Brandon Crawford is busy with World Baseball Classic duty this spring.