Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was a free agent but made it clear he wanted to stay with the only organization he's ever played for. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. openly stated that his preference was to have him back.
Even then, it took two months to come to the agreement that was officially announced early Monday evening. Rollins, 33, signed a three-year, $33 million contract that includes an $11 million vesting option or a club option for $8 million or a player option for $5 million.
Rollins, who said at the end of the season that he was seeking a five-year deal, playfully insisted on mentally adding the extra time.
"I'll stay here for the next ..." He paused. "Four years and then maybe have another conference to wrap up the rest of my career," he said with a grin. "I ended up with a guaranteed three, well, pretty much guaranteed four years."
Amaro, who was reluctant to go beyond three years in part because Rollins has been nagged by a series of leg injuries since winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2007, was equally upbeat at the news conference.
"The fact of the matter is that I fully expect Jimmy to play at least four years here," he said. "And if Jimmy continues to do what he's been doing and plays and participates the way he has over the last 10 or 11 or 12 years, it's pretty certain that he'll play here four years."
Details of the contract were not immediately available, but the vesting option is likely based on plate appearances. Rollins has had at least 625 PAs in every full season in the big leagues except 2010.
He also said that he has altered his conditioning program with an eye to avoiding future leg issues.
"As far as conditioning, I'm always in shape," he said. "I think it's probably more so in-season conditioning. You're out there playing every day so you kind of pull back in different areas. At the end of last year, probably about the last month, I found something that really worked. Something actually my wife [Johari] threw at me."
The routine involves running on a treadmill with a weighted vest and increasing the incline.
"It was amazing how much stronger my legs got and I started feeling real good at the end," he said.
While there was a rumor at the Winter Meetings that the Milwaukee Brewers had made a serious offer, Rollins made it clear that he never really envisioned himself wearing another uniform.
"You have to take everything into consideration," he said. "When you've been somewhere since you were 17 and go somewhere new, you get there as a new player. And in my situation, in the second part of my career, to get somewhere new and feel like you're a rented player, you weren't part of the process of building this team up. Here in Philadelphia, from the first day I got to the big leagues, it was a matter of making this team a contender and eventually a champion.
"And those things have been accomplished. The champion part not as often as I would have liked, but we're in contention every year. So obviously when money's on the table and it's guaranteed, it's tempting. But you think of everything else that you've done and what you'll be able to do going forward and where it makes more sense to do those things. And, for me, it's here."
Rollins has the longest active tenure of any professional athlete in Philadelphia, and Amaro said he could envision that streak lasting beyond the current contract.
"Jimmy's got an opportunity to be one of the greatest Phillies of all time. It's pretty special when a player can stay with one organization, especially in this day and age for a long period of time like Jimmy has. And, you know, hopefully we'll do this again in a few years," he said.
Rollins turned philosophical when asked if he now thought he would definitely retire as a member of the Phillies.
"I don't know," he said. "Obviously, this takes me up to 37. At that point, it all depends. I was a young kid once pushing an older guy out of the way. And, you know, if that happens to be the case, I understand that. This organization isn't going to stop for me, and it shouldn't. It has to keep going forward.
"So if I'm still viable to go out there every day, hopefully we will get something done. But when it's time to make a move, they'll do what's necessary. You can't play forever. I've seen Joe Montana switch teams, I've seen Jerry Rice switch teams. And we all know how great they were. It wouldn't mean that they didn't love me anymore, just that it's time to move on."
For the next four years, at least, his parking spot is safe.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.