Last week, the Tigers and Rangers didn't just light up the hot stove. They formulated some needlessly complicated hot stove metaphor to illustrate just how dramatic their trade was. Ian Kinsler is now in Detroit, Prince Fielder is now in Texas, and the market for aging All-Star second basemen has one enormous and important data point. What's it mean for the Reds and Brandon Phillips?
We haven't really heard anything about El Beeperino in recent weeks, but numerous reports at the conclusion of the World Series indicated he was a goner. Now, depending on who you ask, that could be either a bad thing or a great thing, or even a bread thing. But regardless of what you think, this is probably the biggest storyline of the Reds offseason. And now with the Kinsler trade, we have a new set of white walls to toss on the BP trade speculation tire fire.
The Reds could go a few different ways with any deal involving Phillips. What the Kinsler/Prince swap tells us though is that a player like Phillips has real actual positive value on the market this offseason. Some have speculated that any trade the Reds could work out would probably be a salary dump or at the very least, they'd have to eat some money to get anything valuable in return. Unless Walt is a maniac (I don't think he is), I really doubt it will come to that.
So what are we lookin' at here?
The Mariners have roughly a jillion dollars to spend this offseason, if they want to spend. They have only four players on their roster right now that will make more than league minimum next season. I haven't seen anything linking them to Phillips or whatever, but as it stands, their middle infield next season will be youngsters Nick Franklin and Brad Miller. They both have strong pedigrees, but they might be attracted to the idea of a steadying presence like BP at the keystone.
The Mariners don't really have much major league talent that the Reds could get in return, but they have an impressive stable of prospects. I think it would be a great idea if the Reds could get Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, but I'm not sure if the Mariners would be okay with that. Prolly not.
Kansas City Royals
Way back in the day when I used to play Madden, I figured out a way to get a top five draft pick every year. See, when the trade deadline came around, what I would do was I would find the worst team in the league up to that point and I would engage them in trade talks. The game had a glitch in it where the better your team was, the more the AI would value your future draft picks. So when I was really good, my projected #30 draft pick was worth more than the computer team's projected top five pick. I killed them with this.
The Royals always make me think of this. For whatever reason, their AI seems to value everything backwards. So the idea that they would be happy to swap Alex Gordon for Brandon Phillips isn't all that far fetched to me. Gordon had a down year last year, but the contracts kinda match up (Gordon is owed $22.5 mil over the next two seasons with a team option for a third) and the Royals might wanna make some room in the outfield for bums like David Lough or so they can re-sign Jeff Francouer.
Shit, the Dodgers have more money than Jamaica's got mangoes. They just bought another pitcher today, getting Dan Haren for a cool $10 mil. Whatever. They still kinda need a second baseman and they are not shy at all about going after what they want.
A Brandon Phillips/Matt Kemp swap would mirror the heck out of the Kinsler/Prince deal. I like that symmetry because I'm a human being, but such a deal would not be without it's problems. I doubt the Reds would be okay adding such an expensive piece to an already cramped payroll. The Dodgers would definitely have to kick some money in, just as the Tigers did with Prince. I suppose the Reds could frontload whatever money the Dodgers want to give them to keep the short-term payroll under control, only paying Kemp his full $20 mil once a number of short-term obligations (Broxton, Marshall, Ludwick, et. al.) are cleared up.
Also, Kemp is no spring chicken. He's more of a glass chicken. He played only 179 games the last two seasons with various injuries, including a gimp shoulder. This would be a huge gamble for the Reds.
The Dodgers also have the likes of Andre Ethier on the block, as they have four starting outfielders right now because of repugnant affluence. Where Kemp is the high-risk/high-reward gamble, I think Ethier would be the safe bet. He is owed only $78 mil over the next four seasons and he has never really missed significant time to injury. His wRC+ has been between 120 and 134 the last six seasons. He can also play a bad CF for a few months until Billy Hamilton is ready.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have a blog-sized hole at 2B and also need pitching. Could Phillips and Homer be flipped for Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus? I don't know. I bet Blue Jays fans would think that's some real wild speculation.
I know they need help at 2B now that the withered husk of Brian Roberts has yielded to the bitter winds of time, but I don't know what they have to offer. Remember when Nick Markakis used to rope 60+ extra-base hits a year? He's only 29 and he sounds old as heck.