The upcoming offseason for the Cincinnati Reds has a lot of questions surrounding it, and with questions come rumors about how those will be answered. Brandon Phillips seems to be right in the middle of these rumors. Phillips has been a huge piece for the Reds since he arrived here in 2006. He has helped them make the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 years, won 4 gold gloves and been an all-star 3 times. The question is; would he help them more on a different team in 2014? In my opinion, the answer to this question is yes. The Cincinnati Reds should Trade Brandon Phillips.
Now, a lot of people will disagree with this statement. They will argue that the Reds have pitching, but lack offense. They will argue that trading Phillips will not only hurt the offense, but the defense as well. In 2013 Phillips had 103 RBI, and he also won his fourth Gold-Glove award. The Reds are already trying to find a replacement for Shin-Soo Choo’s offensive prowess; they don’t need to replace Phillips as well. I agree; these are good reasons and should be considered before making any move. However, there are negatives to keeping Phillips.
One reason that the Reds should trade Phillips is in 2013, he had his worst offensive year in a Cincinnati reds uniform, and he is not exactly getting any younger. His 103 RBI were a career best, however he batted behind Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo who were the top two OBP leaders in the NL. The amount of RBI is a stat that is directly affected by the players who bat in front of you. My point is that most players would reach 100 RBI, if they batted behind two players with on base percentages in the high .400’s. The truth is that Phillips had a career low .261 batting average, a .310 OBP, and a .706 OPS. He is also 32 years old, and middle infielders historically do not age well. This is a sign that his bat is starting to decline, and he won’t be as valuable offensively moving forward.
The next reason for concern is that Phillips is owed 50 million dollars over the next 4 years. That is a lot of money for an aging middle infielder, and not something that a small market team like the Reds can afford to spend. They currently have holes that need to be filled and only a small amount of payroll to work with. Moving Phillips would make room for some financial flexibility, perhaps allowing the Reds to fill other pressing needs. Signing an outfielder that provides some offense is something the Reds need, and could be possible with more available funds. Financial flexibility is something that any team needs to have a successful offseason. Phillips also thinks that his contract was "a slap in the face" and has caused issues between him and the front office. They may not want to continue to pay him, if he is not appreciative of it.
The Reds could also receive an extremely large return for Phillips. He is a big name player, and has a lot of trade value. This is another reason why I believe they should move him. They should be able to get major league ready players, which could fill holes in center field, left field, and/or second base. Filling multiple offensive positions, with young cost controlled players is extremely valuable. Big time prospects are something that small market teams need to compete, and that’s something the Reds know. If no second base option is obtained in the trade, the Reds have a big time prospect in Billy Hamilton. Many scouts agree Hamilton is a natural second baseman and could fill in for Phillips. His speed would be valuable at the top of the order, and has unprecedented range on defense. They could also use the saved money to sign a free agent like Omar Infante; Options are a good thing.
The last reason the Reds should trade Phillips is the most important. Next season he obtains 10 to 5 rights. This will give him full trade protection, and will make him impossible to move in the future. This effectively makes it the last chance for the Reds to move him. If they do not move him now, they will never be able to. If Phillips continues his decline, the Reds could be stuck paying a lot of money for a player that is hurting the team. That isn’t something a small market team can do and survive. The risk of this happening is extremely high, and the Reds need to run now, while they still can.
Trading Brandon Phillips is something the Cincinnati Reds need to do. Not only will it help them be a better team and fill holes for next year; it will help secure their future as well. All of the rumors may be just that; rumors. However, I hope these are signs of things to come, as the reds need a smart move for the 2014 season.