COMMENTARY | When you have something that is considered to be one of the best in the world, you usually want to hold on to it. The Cincinnati Reds, however, are reportedly of a different mindset.
In other words, the Reds are willing to trade three-time All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips, "if it improves the club," according to FOXsports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Rumors have been swirling for a few months, but they seem to be have some serious heat now that the New York Yankees lost Robinson Cano.
While Phillips has been an integral piece of the Reds in recent years, it hasn't translated to a postseason series win. Not many infielders in MLB can hold a candle to his recent accomplishments, which include three All-Star game appearances in the past four years and four Gold Gloves since 2008.
Also, he basically has a second home on "SportsCenter's" top 10 highlight reel, and the fans in Cincinnati love how much he embraces the city.
The question presents itself, why trade him?
Well, to start off, Phillips is surprisingly 32 years old and having him locked up until 2017 doesn't seem very enticing. Also, the team fell in love with Shin-Soo Choo last year and dealing Phillips could bring it one step closer to freeing up some cash and retaining the highly sought after center fielder. Reports are that deals with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers both fell through with Choo, and that would explain why the Phillips trade rumors regained some traction.
CBS' Jon Heyman tweeted yesterday that the Reds met with Choo on Tuesday night, which was a bit surprising. He said that if the Reds were to re-sign the center fielder, they'd have to deal Phillips first.
So, this is where we stand. The Reds wouldn't have met with Choo again if they weren't looking to deal Phillips; it's really that simple, in my opinion.
Many thought retaining him was out of the question, but Choo proved himself as one of the best center fielders in MLB last year, and maybe the Reds are thinking that he is more valuable than Phillips. Although B-Phil is a fan favorite, as the old cliche goes, baseball is a business.
On the other side of the spectrum, New York has always been the rumored landing spot for Phillips, and it makes sense. The Yankees see that they can now get another great second baseman to replace Cano, and for a much better deal.
Phillips' current salary with the Reds is a six-year, $72.5 million deal. That's a whole truckload less than the contract the Yankees would have had to fork up for Cano, who just signed with the Seattle Mariners for a whopping $240 million over 10 years. So, the Yankees' thought process is that they can get arguably the second-best second baseman in the league for about half the yearly salary that they would've had to pay the best one.
Makes sense, but what would they have to give up?
The word on the street is that a Brett Gardner for Phillips deal is the most probable one. This would fill the Yankees' gaping hole at second base and give the Reds a solid left fielder in case 35-year-old Ryan Ludwick breaks down again, which seems to be highly likely.
Of course, this all hinges on the Reds' confidence that they can get Choo back if they deal Phillips. Another element to this involves coveted Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, who has proven that he is all-world on the basepaths but is still extremely raw as an all-around player. I'm not sure if the Reds can trust him to start in center field yet, because then losing Choo would be fine, and that may also be a log on the Phillips fire.
The Phillips for Gardner trade would leave the Reds with a dynamic outfield of Ludwick/Gardner, Choo, and Jay Bruce. That's great. It would also result in Skip Schumaker, who was (arguably suspiciously) signed in late-November by the Reds, starting at second base. That signing seems to make a lot of sense now, considering that he may just be the Reds' backup plan at second base if they can pull off a deal for Phillips.
It seems like a win-win at first glance. While Phillips has been great in Cincinnati, it hasn't amounted to any postseason success and his production is bound to drop off as he ages. On top of that, his personality was simply built for New York City; he would shine in the bright lights of the Big Apple. The Reds could end up with one of the best outfields in MLB, and have some extra spending money to throw towards retaining Homer Bailey down the road.
This is all speculation, but something definitely fishy is going on, and we all know that the Yankees love to make a big splash. All that's left to do now is wait, but this hot stove rumor seems to be searing.
Alex Marcheschi is a senior at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He hails from the Westside of Cincinnati and enjoys a nice pizza.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cincinnati Reds
- Brandon Phillips