While all eyes have been on the White Sox making a move to shore up their outfield, Rick Someone added some useful depth for the middle infield this morning:
#WhiteSox have agreed to terms with infielder Jimmy Rollins on a minor-league deal w/ an invite to camp.— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) February 22, 2016
Rollins, 37 kept the seat warm for mega-prospect Corey Seager last season with the Dodgers as their full-time shortstop for most of the season. He hit .224/.285/.358 while rating as a below-average defensive shortstop by both Ultimate Zone Rating (-6.2 runs) and Defensive Runs Saved (-7 runs). Rollins has historically been good defensively and produced at an all-star level as recently as 2014, so there is some hope for a bounceback performance this season. Another thing Rollins has going for him is his durability; he's appeared in at least 138 games each of the last five seasons, which is impressive for a player at his age and defensive position.
For the time being, it's inconclusive what Rollins' role will be. If his downturn on defense really was a signal that he's close to finished at shortstop, Tyler Saladino would probably be the best defensive option. However, even Rollins' paltry batting line above surpassed what Saladino did last season. It's also unclear whether the White Sox would carry Rollins, Saladino, and Carlos Sanchez on the roster, because that would leave J.B. Shuck (for the time being) as the only backup outfielder and zero good non-catcher pinch-hitting options.
At minimum, this is a no-risk depth signing that at least provides an alternative if Tyler Saladino can't hack it as a full-time regular. At maximum, Rollins could wind up as the starter out of Spring Training and push Saladino to a utility role for which he'd be well-suited. For what it's worth, this comment seems to imply that the Sox don't intend to bury Rollins at Triple-A Charlotte and that they're looking to him to be a leader in the major league clubhouse.
Rick Hahn in press release on Jimmy Rollins deal: "We envision Jimmy contributing both on and off the field." #WhiteSox— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) February 22, 2016
Rollins, per source, rejected 2 teams that offered super-utility jobs and guaranteed deals for more $. Wanted chance to win SS job with CWS.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 22, 2016
Jimmy Rollins gets $2 million if he makes club. No bonus clauses— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) February 22, 2016
We'll update this story with more details if and when they become available.