The San Francisco Giants signed Jimmy Rollins to a minor league contract, giving him a chance in spring training to make the club or at least showcase for other teams. At 38, and coming off two replacement-level seasons with the Dodgers in 2015 and the White Sox in 2016, he doesn't appear to have much left -- nobody picked him up after the White Sox released him in mid-June -- and the Giants have better backup infield options in Conor Gillaspie and Kelby Tomlinson.
At his peak, Rollins was a Hall of Fame-level player. He won the National League MVP award in 2007 when he bashed out 88 extra-base hits, the second-most ever for a shortstop (Alex Rodriguez had 91 in 1996). From 2004 to 2008, Rollins averaged 5.1 WAR per season. He was an exciting player, a power-speed combo with a good glove; Rollins won four Gold Gloves, although a couple came after his range had started to diminish. He stole 40-plus bases four times, getting caught less than 10 times in each of those seasons, so he was efficient as well as productive on the bases.
Some will argue for Rollins as a Hall of Famer, although I think he pretty clearly falls short.
He's above Edgar Renteria in WAR, but well below the Derek Jeter/Barry Larkin line; Alan Trammell is up there as well, although he has been denied the Hall of Fame. Rollins falls in line with Omar Vizquel and Miguel Tejada, which feels right. Of the three, Vizquel has the best chance to eventually get elected, based on his defensive reputation that included 11 Gold Gloves. He also has played the most games at shortstop, although Jeter played more innings.
Durability was certainly one of Rollins' strengths. He's sixth in games played, behind Vizquel, Jeter, Luis Aparicio, Ozzie Smith and Cal Ripken. Of the remaining top 10 in games played, two are also in the Hall of Fame (Luke Appling, Rabbit Maranville), although the guy right behind Rollins is Larry Bowa, another longtime Phillies shortstop.
A few years ago, Rollins had an outside shot at getting to 3,000 hits. He finished the 2013 season with 2,175 hits and was entering his age-35 season. If he could last through his age-40 season -- as Jeter did -- he'd have to average 137.5 hits per season to get to 3,000. Instead, he lasted just two more seasons as a regular, hitting .243 and .224.
That was always the interesting thing about Rollins. Despite his speed and above-average contact ability, he never hit .300. He swung big and swung hard, resulting in a ton of infield popups. According to FanGraphs, Rollins has had 330 infield popups in his career. Compare that to, say, Joey Votto, who has 15. Rollins is 5-foot-7, but he wasn't going to be a slap-and-dash singles hitter. Was the trade-off worth it? Hard to say, but if that was Rollins' personality, it's hard to say it didn't work for him.
This sounds like a eulogy. While I doubt Rollins makes the Giants, you never know about an injury, and if he's willing to become a utility guy, maybe someone picks him up.