After declining the qualifying offer, the writing was on the wall for 2014 to wind up being the last season Hanley Ramirez spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ramirez, an aging shortstop with a checkered medical history, was seeking a multiyear deal.
That didn’t align with the Dodgers’ vision as young prospect and promising shortstop Corey Seager was inching closer to joining the big league club. Los Angeles managed to preserve their flexibility moving forward by trading for 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins.
The veteran shortstop spent the previous 15 years of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies and only had one year remaining on his contract. Rollins and Seager began to form a relationship last spring, as Seager was in camp on a non-roster invitation.
Rollins and his understudy eventually went their separate ways, reuniting last September once active rosters expanded. At the time Los Angeles promoted Seager from Triple-A Oklahoma City, Rollins was sidelined due to a sprained right index finger.
Seager took hold of the opportunity, and the rest as they say, is history. Then-Dodgers manager Don Mattingly largely refused to publicly announce Seager had usurped Rollins, though both shortstops took the changing of the guard in stride.
Reflecting on their time as teammates, Seager expressed his gratitude over the mentoring Rollins provided, according to ESPN’s Doug Padilla:
“It was huge; it really was,” Seager said of his time with Rollins last year. “From every aspect of the game, when to come to the park, how to come to the park, how to act, all that stuff. How to be on the field, what to do. Everything like that was huge.”
Seager enters this season as the consensus No. 1 overall prospect. He was rated as such by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and ESPN. In 27 regular-season games with the Dodgers last season, Seager batted .337/.425/.561 with four home runs, eight doubles, 17 RBIs, a .421 wOBA and 175 wRC+.
Speaking at the Dodgers FanFest event on Jan. 30, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said he believes the 21-year-old shortstop has Hall-of-Fame potential. As for Rollins, his quiet offseason came to an end on Monday when he signed a Minor League contract with the Chicago White Sox.
Rollins received a non-roster invitation to Spring Training as part of the deal and should be in contention to win the club’s starting job at shortstop. The Dodgers and White Sox meet four times during Spring Training, with their first contest on March 3 in the Cactus League opener.