For a guy who will be 38 this season, and who is coming off two straight years of hitting under .250, Scott Rolen is a pretty popular name around MLB these days.
In fact, there are multiple teams who have been trying to shoo him away from his retirement plans, which should tell you a little something about how much weight his defense and intangibles carry around the league. This is a free agent who has the luxury of having a couple of potential jobs waiting for him, even at the very end of his career.
One of those teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers, had hoped that Rolen would join the retooled NL West contender and give them an insurance policy for Luis Cruz at third base. They, however, seem to be out of the picture now, as GM Ned Colletti has said that the team is essentially out of the mix for the veteran’s services.
Which would lead us back to the Cincinnati Reds, who might be Rolen’s best option. Or, as Mike Bauman of MLB.com puts it, his most sensible choice.
Playoff-calibre squad? Check. Defined role as bench player and mentor? Check. Familiarity and past success with the club? Also check. Rolen has been with the club for some time, and instead of moving on to take on a leadership role in another contender, the defending NL Central winners will welcome him with open arms.
His playing time will be scarce, as he would be serving as the primary backup to Rookie of the Year finalist Todd Frazier; but where Rolen might no longer be able to contribute with his diminished skills, he can provide with “his intelligence, his leadership, his character, his clubhouse credibility.”
It sounds like a particularly Dusty Baker-like thing to say, but in short: Scott Rolen matters to the Reds in all the ways that won’t show up on the stat sheets. That it might wind up showing up on the scoreboards though, is why the Reds want to convince the 37-year old out of retiring.
And it sounds like they have the inside track to make that happen.