It's been an eventful weekend for the Cincinnati Reds and Brandon Phillips. After it looked like a deal was reached between the Reds and the Washington Nationals for the second baseman, it seems like the deal is done for the time being. From Fox's Ken Rosenthal:
Sources: #Nationals moving on from Phillips, pursuing other options. Kendrick could be one; a trade could be another. Murphy low priority.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 19, 2015
It seems like the Nats are moving on, which means that Brandon Phillips is probably going to be a Red next year. Let's break it down.
Wait, what happened?
Brandon Phillips had 10-5 rights, as negotiated by MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement, so he has the right to veto any trade. It seems like he exercised those rights.
Why did he veto the trade?
There are plenty of arguments to be made on both sides, so let's look at those.
It makes sense for Phillips to accept the trade, because Washington is a team that is built to content in 2016 and 2017, and the Reds are not. He'd likely be the easy call to start for what should be a playoff team, and he'd have the reigning MVP in the same lineup, as well as a few other young bats like Anthony Rendon. They have plenty of pitching, and have been working to acquire a closer (and could still get one named Chapman at some point), and it's clear that they're actively working to overtake the Mets in their division.
On the other hand, why would Phillips not accept the trade? According to reports, he just bought a house in Cincinnati and seems to like the city. Also, he was reportedly seeking an extension to sweeten the pot and make the trade more worthwhile for him. From CBS' Jon Heyman:
Brandon Phillips sought an extension to OK nats trade. With $27M/2 yrs to go, he's already overpaid. Can see why teams didn't do that.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 19, 2015
Could he still be traded?
Sure, but it's hard to see a situation that's as good of a fit as this one. The Nationals seem to be one of very few teams willing to take on the $27M that Phillips is still owed, and also have Dusty Baker, a manager that Phillips enjoyed playing for in Cincinnati. It's unlikely that any other team trying to acquire him would be able to match that.
Why was he even (almost) traded in the first place?
The Reds are rebuilding. They have a player who is currently pretty good in Brandon Phillips, who also happens to have a contract that will probably run out by the next time the Reds will be good. The Reds are interested in getting as much future value as they can for him, and in this case, were trying to trade him into a player-friendly situation as well.
How does this decision affect the Reds?
If healthy, Phillips should expect to see somewhere between 1100-1300 at bats in the next two seasons as an everyday starter. As a rebuilding team, those at bats could be valuable to give experience to young players that could be part of the next great Reds team. That especially includes Jose Peraza, who was the centerpiece of the deal that took Todd Frazier to Chicago. Peraza can play both middle infield spots, but trading Phillips could open up a spot for him right away and put him that much closer to improving against big league pitching. The Reds are unlikely to trade the other half of their middle infield in Zack Cozart, because Cozart is coming off of a major injury and won't be worth much until proven that he's healthy and as good as he was before his injury.
Can't they just bench him so Peraza can play?
I don't think it'd be that easy. The MLBPA tends to frown upon situations like that, and as long as he's healthy and producing, he'll likely be in the lineup every day.
Was this the right move by Phillips? Discuss below.