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Phillies make Rollins $40 million richer

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Jimmy Rollins believes he’s played like one of the top shortstops in baseball. Now, he’s getting paid like one.

Rollins agreed to a $40 million, five-year contract extension with the team on Monday. The 26-year-old shortstop has spent his entire career with Philadelphia and was eligible for free agency after the 2006 season.

His contract includes a $5 million signing bonus. Philadelphia holds a club option for 2011 at $8.5 million with a $2 million buyout. If the Phillies exercise the option, the total value of the contract would increase to $46.5 million.

“We’ve never envisioned our ballclub going forward without Jimmy,” Phillies general manager Ed Wade said. “He brings a lot of energy and is a catalyst for this team.”

This season, Rollins has hit .263 with five home runs, 19 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 62 games.

Rollins wanted a contract extension during spring training. When talks fell through, Rollins said he wouldn’t seek a new contract until after the season. That changed on Monday.

“After spring training, I had put it out of my mind,” Rollins said. “To get it done at this point, it shows that they wanted me more than I thought.”

Rollins knows that with the new contract comes new responsibilities.

“Now, it’s my turn to join the big crew with Bobby (Abreu), Jim (Thome), and Pat (Burrell),” Rollins said. “With a long-term contract, I feel that gives me a chance to be a leader on this club with those guys.”

Rollins was an N.L. All-Star in 2001-02, leading the league in triples both seasons. In 2001, he tied for the league lead in stolen bases with 46 and from 2001-04, his fielding percentage of .981 was best among N.L. shortstops.

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