Since last Winter, it has not been a secret that Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips would be the next veteran in line to be unloaded via trade. Even with his 10/5 rights, which allow for a veteran of 10 years who has spent 5 consecutive years with the same team to veto any trade, the Reds weren’t shy about their attempts to move their star second baseman. They even had two separate deals in place to send him to Arizona and Washington. Even though those deals would ultimately fall apart, we knew that there were a couple of teams out there who viewed Phillips as valuable.
With the development of Jose Peraza and recent acquisition of Dilson Herrera, the need to trade Phillips this off-season seems a little more urgent to get these younger guys some playing time. In November, that possibility seemed to become more of a reality with Phillips revealing that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause this time around. With that revelation, our own Wick Terrell opined about possible landing spots for the second baseman this off-season, specifically with the Braves, Angels, and Dodgers. With the Winter Meetings having come and gone with Phillips still a member of the Reds, it’s time to look and see if there are still any possible trade scenarios where this might work.
As we wrote last month, there was already going to be an issue trying to trade BP due to the increased production by second basemen around the league, Phillips’ declining production both at the plate and in the field, and the lack of free agents at the position. While there still seemed to be a couple of options left on the table for Phillips, recent moves by those teams has further limited those options. First, the Atlanta Braves went and signed utility infielder Sean Rodriguez to a 2-year deal. While Rodriguez isn’t a full-time second baseman, he did start 18 games there for the Pirates last season and would be able to platoon with Jace Peterson. Second, the Los Angeles Angels traded to get Danny Espinosa from the Washington Nationals. Espinosa was the odd-man-out in Washington after the Nationals traded for Adam Eaton, allowing for Trea Turner to move back to shortstop.
The only other team left in the mix that still needs a second baseman would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers recently let Chase Utley walk and then traded Howie Kendrick, leaving an opening in the middle of their infield. However, the Dodgers have recently been rumored to be trying to acquire Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins. Dozier, who is only owed $15 million through 2018, is obviously the younger, better, and cheaper option, and his acquisition would close another door for the Reds and Phillips.
This creates quite the conundrum for BP. If his priority is playing for a contender then he’d have to take a bench role, which would leave the Reds having to eat a pretty large chunk of his $14 million that he’s owed in 2017 to get any kind of value out of a trade. If he wants playing time, then landing with a contender would be off the table, and even the options for a non-contender seem to be pretty limited at this point. And if he stays with the Reds, he may end up taking a bench role as the season goes on in order to find playing time for Peraza and Herrera. There are still a lot of questions on how the Reds will handle the future of their second baseman this off-season, but unfortunately we still don’t have any answers.