Reds give 3B Scott Rolen 2-year extension
CINCINNATI (AP) – Scott Rolen agreed Saturday to a two-year contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds that guarantees him an additional $13 million while converting almost half of his 2010 salary to a deferred signing bonus.
The deal, which runs through 2012, clears a little bit of payroll room for the Reds and shows how much they value the 34-year-old third baseman as a clubhouse leader. Rolen missed time with a concussion last season, batting .305 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs in 128 games with Toronto and Cincinnati.
A seven-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star, Rolen had been due to make $11 million next season, the final one in an eight-year, $90 million deal he got from St. Louis. Instead, he gets a $5 million signing bonus that will be paid over the next three years, a $6 million salary next season and $6.5 million in each of the following two seasons.
Cincinnati is expected to trim its opening-day payroll from the $71 million it had last season. The Reds drew 1.7 million fans during their ninth straight losing season, their smallest attendance since 1986.
When they got Rolen in a trade with Toronto in July, they set up a logjam at the top of the payroll. Four players would account for nearly two-thirds of the payroll next year: Rolen, starter Aaron Harang ($12.5 million), starter Bronson Arroyo ($11 million) and closer Francisco Cordero ($12 million).
The Reds are looking to trade at least one of the pitchers, and have had talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers about Harang, who is coming off two straight disappointing seasons. Arroyo also could be available.
By acquiring Rolen before the trade deadline for third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and pitchers Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart, the Reds put themselves in a payroll bind. General manager Walt Jocketty values Rolen’s leadership, something that was missing in a clubhouse that has lost a lot of veterans in the past two years.
“Scott’s signing is an indication of his feelings toward the club and the direction we’re taking,” Jocketty said in a statement. “He wants to stay here, and hopefully he can end his career as a Red.”
Rolen grew up in Evansville, Ind. – less than a four-hour drive away – and attended Reds games as a youth. He was excited by the trade in July, but a concussion diminished his playing time during his first two months in Cincinnati.
Rolen was hit in the head by a pitch from Colorado’s Jason Marquis on Aug. 2, giving him headaches and limiting his availability. He went on the disabled list Aug. 11. He appeared in 40 games for Cincinnati, batting .270 with three homers and 24 RBIs.
The 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, Rolen is a .284 career hitter with 283 homers and 1,129 RBIs in 14 major league seasons with Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto and Cincinnati.
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.