PHILADELPHIA — When Jimmy Rollins had the chance to go somewhere else, he just couldn't walk away from the Philadelphia Phillies.
The smooth-talking, slick-fielding shortstop has spent nearly half his life with the same organization, so he turned down more money from the Milwaukee Brewers to stay in Philadelphia.
Rollins and the Phillies finalized a $33 million, three-year contract on Monday. The deal includes a vesting option for a fourth year at $11 million. If not vested, that could be a club option at $8 million or a player option at $5 million.
"You have to take everything in consideration when you've been somewhere since you were 17," Rollins said. "To go somewhere new, at this part of my career, you feel like a rented player because you weren't part of the process of building the team up.
"From the first day I got here in the big leagues, it was about making this team a contender and then a champion. Those things have been accomplished, the champion part not as often as I would've liked. Obviously, when money is on the table, and it's guaranteed, it's tempting. But you think of everything else that you've done and what you will be able to do going forward and where it makes sense for you to do those things."
Rollins, a three-time All-Star and the 2007 NL MVP, is the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia. Selected in the second round of the 1996 amateur draft, he was a free agent for the first time in his career.
Rollins, who turned 33 last month, sought a five-year deal. The Phillies didn't want to go that long, and Rollins didn't want to leave. So, they reached an agreement over the weekend.
"Jimmy has been an integral part of this franchise's recent success and is arguably the best shortstop in club history," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He also stands to be one of the Phillies' all-time greatest players. This contract ensures that he will be with us at a time when we hope to continue this recent run of division titles. Jimmy clearly gives us the best chance to bring a World Series title back to Philadelphia and we are looking forward to the next several years with him at his home at the shortstop position."
Rollins has been the heart and soul of a team that has won five consecutive NL East titles and the 2008 World Series. Rollins is undeniably the team leader, a charismatic personality who brings a certain swagger to the clubhouse.
Rollins boldly proclaimed the Phillies were the team to beat in the division before the 2007 season, even though Philadelphia hadn't won anything in 14 years. He backed that up by having an MVP year, and leading the Phillies to their first postseason appearance since 1993.
Though he hasn't come close to matching the numbers he put up in 2007 — .296 average, 30 homers, 94 RBIs, 20 triples, 41 steals — Rollins remains one of the best defensive players at his position, and is still an offensive threat atop the lineup.
He hit .268 with 16 homers, 63 RBIs and 30 steals this year. Overall, Rollins has a .272 batting average with 170 homers and 725 RBIs in 11 seasons. He is one of only two players in franchise history to have a 30-30 season, owns the club record for most leadoff homers (37) and established a team record with a 38-game hitting streak that stretched over the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Rollins has been plagued by leg injuries in three of the last four years, and played in a career-low 88 games in 2010. He started 135 this season, but fully expects to play at least four more years in Philadelphia and is already looking forward to negotiating his next contract with the team.
Rollins watched former New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes get a $106 million, six-year deal from the Florida Marlins. Reyes is five years younger than Rollins and has been to one more All-Star game. But Rollins has that MVP trophy, three Gold Glove awards and a World Series championship ring.
"He's an explosive player, an exciting player," Rollins said. "Players get rewarded for different things. He has a skill set to be desired. Because he's making more money than me doesn't mean he's $73 million different or better than I am. The time was right for him and he was able to strike while it was hot."