Their motivation? Pretty simple.
Phillips ticked off a lot of people in the organization with his behavior this year. Bob Castellini was the driving force behind Phillips signing. Phillips basically called Castellini a liar in the Cincinnati Magazine article.
Phillips slapped the wrong guy in the face by saying that.
Given that offensive production was just average this year — Phillips was seventh in OPS among National League second basemen — the Reds could get similar offense for a lot less money.
There was also a run in with another Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer, not to mention his comments following Cincinnati's wild card loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he stated the Reds "choked." It's stuff that's easily swept under the rug if Phillips was still producing like the top hitter at his position, but gets annoying quickly when he isn't.
Career-high 103 RBIs aside, he saw declines in average, OBP, slugging, extra-base hits and even steals.
Fay adds that in addition to the decline, Phillips' contract will also make it difficult to strike a deal. He's still owed $50 million over the next four years, which would suggest the Reds options are limited to the higher payroll teams. It's no secret the Dodgers would like to upgrade at second base, and they appear unlikely to make a run at Robinson Cano. The Yankees would be another suitor if Cano signed elsewhere.
It's also unclear what the Reds initial asking price will be given the circumstances. Following their latest postseason exit, the growing sentiment was a big bat needed to be moved for a difference maker in the rotation. It'll be interesting to see if dangling Phillips can accomplish that, or if the potential money saved gives them flexibility to make a splashier move.
Time will certainly tell on all fronts, but the one thing that seems clear in October is that Reds won't be standing pat.
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