April 7, 2006: Brandon Phillips is traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Cincinnati Reds for . The Cincinnati Reds sent Jeff Stevens (minors) (June 13, 2006) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.

The Reds had played 2005 with 33 year old Rich Aurilia at second base. Aurilia hit well in 2005, batting .282 with 14 homers and a .782 OPS. Aurilia was granted free agency in October, and the Reds traded for speedster IF-OF Tony Womack as a 2b candidate for 2006. Womack was coming off a less than stellar 2005 season with the Yankees where he hit .249 with no homers, 27 steals, and a .556 OPS. Aurilia was eventually re-signed in January, 2006, but the Reds had decided that wanted the former all-star shortstop to play a fulltime “utility role” in 2006, backing up young third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and playing all the infield positions. The Reds also included Ryan Freel in competition for 2b. Freel had started 103 games in a utility role in 2005, 48 of them at 2b.

The Reds began 2006 rotating Womack and Freel at the 2b position. Through April 15, Womack had started five games, Freel had started four, Aurilia had started one, and a new Reds player, Brandon Phillips had started one, too, on April 13. Phillips had worn out his welcome with the Cleveland Indians after having spent parts of the previous four seasons with them, playing 128 games at 2b and one at shortstop. He had been a semi-regular for them in 2003, but batted only .208 with a .553 OPS in 393 plate appearances. After getting only 30 plate appearances over the next two seasons, and spending most of the time in the minor leagues, Phillips was out of options. The Indians sent him to the Reds for a player to be named later.

Inserted into the Reds starting lineup on April 16 by manager Jerry Narron Phillips started all but two games at 2b through May 29. Phillips was hitting .309 with five homers and a .799 OPS. On June 13, Phillips was up to .310 with seven homers and an .810 OPS. Phillips has been the Reds second baseman since that time. Now in his fourth season as a Red, Phillips has compiled a .273 batting average with 85 home runs, 321 rbi, and a .777 OPS. He broke the Reds home run record for 2b when he he slugged 30 in 2007 (breaking Hall of Famer Joe Morgan’s record of 27 from 1976) and he had 32 steals that season. He won a Gold Glove in 2007.

On June 13, minor league relief pitcher Jeff Stevens was identified as the player to be named later for Phillips. At the time, Stevens was a 22 year old pitcher who had been drafted one year earlier in the sixth round by the Reds. He has since been converted to reliever, and in 160 minor league games covering 356 innings, he has struck out 390 batters. Stevens was traded to the Chicago Cubs in the Mark DeRosa trade in the winter of 2008. He made his Cub debut this summer, and has pitched in six games, covering seven innings and striking out six so far in 2009.

11 Responses

  1. brublejr

    This was a great buy low trade right here. I’d wouldn’t mind seeing a similar move for a SS propect to get a chance either with the Reds or placed in L’Ville.

  2. Dan

    Exactly, bruble! Krivsky pulled off a few of these. THIS is the type of the trade it takes to turn around a team that’s down! Low cost, and potentially very high reward.

    Trading young guys for one year of a guy like Rolen (sorry to keep beating a dead horse) is not at all what a down team should be doing.

    By the way, Jocketty did have at least one fantastic “buy low” deal that I can think of w/ the Cardinals — when he got Jim Edmonds after his only bad year for the Angels. I keep waiting for him to work that kind of magic here!!

    I guess Jocketty has pulled 2 “buy low” moves here — signing Gomes, and trading for Balentien. I do think they both have good potential to work out well for us, but too early to tell.

  3. doktor

    i remember being against the trade when it happened. Mostly due to the Reds giving up a minor league pitcher of some talent, partly as I thought Reds already had plenty of options for 2B and because Brandon had “issues” in Cleveland. If Reds only could have gotten Cleveland to toss in Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore, I might have been ok with it. LOL

  4. Steve Price

    Keep in mind, the pitcher wasn’t officially named until two months after Phillips arrived in Cincinnati. I believe it’s because Stevens had been drafted just a year earlier, and I think a player can’t officially be traded until one year after their amateur draft (if they were drafted).

    It’s my understanding that what typically happens is that the ptbnl is usually selected from a list that’s approved at the time of the trade. So, in this case, Stevens would have been on that already, or the Indians/Reds may have agreed upon him at that time. I’ve also heard that the traded player’s performance is taken into account when the PTBNL is selected, but there’s seems to be a lot of room for disagreement there.

    I don’t remember Stevens’s name being leaked, but may be it was.

    That notwithstanding, I’m surprised the Reds only gave up Stevens since Phillips was playing so well at the time. That may go back to the Phillips’ performance at the time of the deal since I’m fairly certain that Phillips had been designated for assignment.

  5. preach

    I forgot about Stevens as the PTBNL. Thanks for the update. It’s nice to follow those guys’ careers to really judge the value of a trade.

  6. Glenn

    I’d forgot about Womack. Now there was a pre-Patterson bust of the highest order.

  7. RiverCity Redleg

    Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how well Stevens sticks in the majors.

  8. David

    You know, people get down on Phillips, but the guy is a star. If I could have any second baseman in the NL, it’d be Utley. If I could have two, it’d be Phillips. :p

  9. Dan

    He’s not as good as he thinks he is… but he’s very good. 😉

    I do wish that 2 of our 3 best players (Phillips and Bruce) weren’t so OBP-challenged… but overall this was a great trade, a fantastic “buy low” deal, and yes, Brandon’s a very good 2B overall.

  10. Matt WI

    Can we still “sell high” on Bruce? But to the point, this was a great trade for the Reds regardless of what Steven’s does… and while Phillips has had his, shall we say, foibles, he’s not the club-house eating cancer that Cleveland made him out to be. I was living in Cleveland when Phillips came up and remember clearly the animosity toward him. A good example of the kind of idea that just gets repeated over and over again by the media and people just never stop beleiving it. And certainly, the greater issue appears to be the fact that people can and do mature. Phillips was young and brash, but overall, he’s come around. And most importantly, he plays good ball.

  11. doktor

    Steve, you are probably right but for some reason I recall that it was known the Reds were giving up a minor league pitcher. could be selective memory on my part. 😀