Continuing in my quest to post something every day in December, I’ve revived an old feature from the good old days of 2019. Join me for another edition of Ruben Tuesdays where I spend the second day of the work week discussing a move made by the team’s controversial former general manager.
Despite the team in apparent decline entering the 2014 season, the Phillies - at least publicly - still claimed they thought they could contend for a playoff spot if everything broke right. Things definitely did not break right in 2014, and even the Phillies had to soon admit that they were in need of a rebuild.
One of their most valuable potential trade chips was shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Rollins had declined from his MVP-winning peak but was still a good shortstop who was worth four bWAR in 2014. It seemed like he might fetch them a nice return, but there was one problem: Rollins didn’t want to leave.
Rollins was in pursuit of the Phillies’ all-time hits record, and he made it clear that he didn’t want to leave the team until he had it. And due to his status as a ten and five player, he could block any potential trade.
In June of that season, Rollins accomplished his goal.
⚾️MY TOP 10 MOMENTS: #9-- Jimmy Rollins collected his 2,235th hit to surpass Mike Schmidt as the franchise’s all-time leader for hits, June 14, 2014. The historic hit was a single to right field off the Cubs’ Edwin Jackson in the fifth inning at Citizens Bank Park. #phillies pic.twitter.com/amAQqxOTHV— Larry Shenk (@ShenkLarry) January 14, 2022
Once said record was secured, and the Phillies having begun the rebuilding process in earnest, Rollins became amenable to joining another team.
A trade partner was found in the form of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Phillies received pitching prospects Tom Windle and Zach Eflin. Windle never reached the major leagues, but Eflin did, and developed into a solid mid-rotation starter.
Unfortunately, Eflin’s chronically injured knees kept him from reaching his full potential, and he spent a lot of time on the Injured List while with the Phillies. However, he was able to return late in the 2022 season as a reliever and made some key late-inning appearances in the Phillies’ run to the World Series.
Ruben Amaro just broadcasted the end of the Phillies postseason drought, led by Aaron Nola (his second-to-last first round pick) and Zach Eflin (the return he got in the Jimmy Rollins trade). What a full circle night.— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) October 4, 2022
Trading away a franchise icon is never easy, but Amaro pulled it off well, especially since Rollins was able to basically choose his destination thanks to his no-trade clause. Not only did Rollins get to move to a team of his liking, but the Phillies got back a pitcher who helped get them to the World Series.