Report: Reds may try to trade Brandon Phillips

Reds could shop Brandon Phillips this winter

10/18/13 in MLB   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips made his third career All-Star game in 2013. He was asked to pick up some of the slack left by Ryan Ludwick (shoulder surgery), and responded with a career-high 103 RBI while smacking 18 home runs for the fourth consecutive season. Despite the impressive power numbers, the Reds are not too happy with their dynamic infielder.

Sep 28, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) reacts with the crowd after scoring during the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY SportsWhile Phillips may have posted a nice career high, he also posted some of his worst numbers since joining the Reds and becoming a full-time starter in 2006. His .261 batting average was his worst since 2008, and his .310 on-base percentage was his worst since 2005. His .396 slugging percentage was not just the worst of his Reds career, but the first time he has gone below .427 in Cincinnati. As I'm sure you could have guessed, his .706 OPS was also his lowest since 2005. His worst mark as a Red was previously .750. To top it all off, his stolen bases dipped down to five - the first time since 2005 that he has had less than 14.

Phillips has four years and $50 million left on his current contract, and at the age of 32, that money does not look like it will be well spent if he sticks around. John Fay of the Cincinnati Inquirer believes that the Reds are interested in shopping Phillips, which makes plenty of sense considering his recent production and contract situation, among other reasons.

Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero is a hot commodity on the free agent market right now, and he currently projects as a second baseman in the MLB. The Reds have taken a heavy interest in Guerrero, and though general manager Walt Jocketty has said that the club is unlikely to sign the Cuban defector, their interest in him suggests that they are on the prowl for a second baseman who gives them better bang for their buck.

Phillips did not help his case with the Reds off the field, either. In an interview with Cincinnati Magazine earlier this year, Phillips essentially called Reds CEO Bob Castellini a liar for claiming that he could not pay Phillips any more money when signing him to a new deal. Castellini was said to be the driving force behind signing Phillips, so he is the wrong guy to be taking shots at.

It's going to be tough to move Phillips given his age, contract, and decline in production, but he is still a solid player and there could be a market for him, especially if the Reds are willing to pay any of his remaining salary. I wouldn't expect a move to be made until free agent second baseman Robinson Cano signs somewhere, as most teams who would be willing to shell out $50 million for Phillips would also likely be in the running for Cano. Perhaps one of the losers of the Cano race could target Phillips as a consolation prize.

The New York Yankees - if they lose Cano to free agency - would have a substantial hole at second base, and could certainly use Phillips to fill the void. We all know they have the money to take on his contract. The Los Angeles Dodgers could also be a potential landing spot. The new owners have not been afraid to open up their checkbooks, and starting second baseman Mark Ellis delivered a .674 OPS with 48 RBI in 2013.

Phillips is no lock to be traded, but the Reds appear to be open to it, and there are teams that could use him. It will be an interesting story line to follow over the offseason.
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