The Reds and Washington Nationals are in trade discussions concerning Brandon Phillips, according to Ken Rosenthal (Fox), citing major league sources.

Phillips is owed $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in ’17 in the final two years of a contract that he signed in April 2012. The market since has inflated, and it is standard for players who waive no-trade rights to receive an added benefit, generally through an extension or salary increase. The Nationals should be in a flexible position financially — they recently offered free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward $200 million over an undisclosed number of years, sources said.

Phillips, who turns 35 in June, had lost much of his production during 2013 and 2014, partly due to injuries. But last season, the Reds second baseman reset his value, at least as a singles hitter (.294/.328; ISO of .100) and defensive specialist. If he can stay healthy – a big IF for a player his age – Phillips could produce enough value to earn his salary of $27 million over the next two seasons. Moving Phillips would clear significant payroll for the Reds to spend on free agents. It would also create playing opportunity for Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez in the middle infield.

The Reds tried to trade Phillips in the 2013 offseason after his negative comments about owner Bob Castellini and profane outburst directed at reporter C. Trent Rosecrans. But the Reds failed to find a suitable trading partner and were unwilling to trade the popular player for little return.

In August 2014, Phillips qualified for full no-trade protection under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players with 10 years of major league service time, including five with their current team, earn that right. Phillips can refuse any trade the Reds might make, including one to the Nationals. On the one hand, he has deep roots in Cincinnati. But with the Reds entering a rebuilding phase, Phillips could choose to pursue the opportunity to play for a team in the postseason spotlight – especially one managed by his long-time skipper, Dusty Baker.

Landing in Washington would be an ironic twist for Phillips. He was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft and played three seasons in the Expos farms system. Phillips was dealt to Cleveland in June 2002, two years before his original franchise moved to Washington D.C. and became the Nationals. Phillips was traded to the Reds prior to the 2006 season.

Don’t expect a lot in return for Phillips. It’s remarkable enough that his remaining contract is viewed as reasonable. If the deal stays simple (no Aroldis Chapman), the best Reds fans can hope for in exchange is a decent (not top) prospect. The $27 million in payroll relief – to spend elsewhere – and more playing time for Suarez and Cozart are the real benefits.

42 Responses

  1. Dan

    Sad to see B.P. go he is one the true entertainers that still remain in baseball. But the Reds got his best years and time to move on.

    $27 million dollars back into the owners pockets. At this point I am questioning their desire to use available cash to improve the team. 0 free agent signings, 0 international signings, 0 desire to scout Asian markets… all signs of puckered up ownership.

    • rhayex

      We were 4th highest in the percentage of revenue spent back on the big league team. This whole, “Castellini only cares about money” narrative needs to die, as its been obvious that that isn’t the case.

    • Matt WI

      I don’t see it as ownership taking and keeping cash at all in a Marlins style move at all. I’ve little doubt that the money saved from BP’s contract will find it’s way back to the team in time. Why pay a lot of money to not be very good right now? It’d be a smart move to unload the contract even if the team was very good.

      The only question is will it be spent wisely? Many would argue that BP’s contract was not a wise move in the first place. No sense in spending some of that money right now if the team isn’t going anywhere, unless they do find something on the international scene worth investing in that will have a long term impact for the club.

      • ncmountie1

        Well said Matt. Any chance the Reds get an OF bat prospect for BP? I will say this about Dat Dude…he was one of the only players to play with emotion on this club (some good/some bad) but he played with some fire in his belly.

      • Michael E

        Crazy enough, I didn’t see any of that fire you talk about. He smiles here and there and fans seem to like his social media forays (doesn’t interest me in the least), and is a very good fielder, but overall, he is as much of a yawn as the next zombie on our team.

        Votto gets agitated and looks upset to lose a game, Frazier as well, the rest, not so much (including BP).

        I see losing BP as a neutral move, he isn’t a good player, he isn’t crazy expensive, he only has downside left in his career and doesn’t show any noticeable leadership.

      • Michael E

        Losing BP is a plus move IF we have a 2B that can hit about as well (BP has no power and mediocre speed and OBP) and field at least average, at 1/5 th the cost.

  2. ohiojimw

    There are lots of good reasons to move BP at this time. None of them should involve creating opportunity for Cozart (or Suarez because they are committed to Cozart).

    Cozart is the same age as Frazier and in the same player control situation. Additionally he will be attempting to return from major knee surgery; and, has never carried his weight offensively. He is not part of the Reds rebuilt future. If the Reds don’t get this, they are in even worse shape than most folks think.

    2016 is the year to put Suarez at SS everyday and see what happens. If he doesn’t work out defensively but his bat continues to shine, send him to 2B in 2017 and go out and find a SS who will be around for several years under cheap team control.

    • Steve Mancuso

      If Cozart has a good first half, he becomes a great trade chip at the deadline.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Yes, this ^^^. Cozart’s value had sky rocketed during the 1st half of 2015. With Cozart entering his 2nd year of arbitration eligibility, he should not be in any long-term plans for the Reds, but the Reds certainly need to have Cozart’s value reestablished after his severe knee injury. The 2016 trade deadline would be an excellent time to recover that value if Cozart has a strong, or even average, offensive 1st half performance in 2016.

    • Tom Diesman

      I’m all on board with Suarez as the SS for now and the future. But I would not be adverse to Cozart starting the year at SS and proving his health to reestablish his trade value. I also want to point out that “Cozart …… has never carried his weight offensively.” may not be an entirely true statement. While his numbers have paled vs league average, he has fared pretty well when taken into context of position, outside of 2014 which appears to be out of the norm of his true ability. He’s about right on an average hitting SS with above average defense and there should be some value in that if they can play him for a few months and show he’s healthy.


      Year OPS MLB-SS-OPS
      2012 .687 .685
      2013 .665 .680
      2014 .568 .677
      2015 .769 .688

      • ohiojimw

        We are going to have to disagree on Cozart. Given his team control and injury situation, I just don’t see how he generates any real value in half a season, even providing he is ready to go from day 1 and plays every day which in itself is a very debatable point at this time.

        Perhaps if the Reds can sign him to a team friendly contract with covers both 2016 and 2017 with the second year dependent on an appearance based vesting option, he might bring back something more than an organizational depth type of guy.

      • Tom Diesman

        I guess we’ll have to then, unless I’m not being clear. I’m basically agreeing with you that Suarez is the Reds SS now and forward, minus the 4-8 weeks it might take next season for Cozart to show his knee is healthy once he’s ready to play. Then if he’s healthy and still playing above average defense, you start shopping a average hitting SS, with above average defense, with 1.5+ years control. Until then he’s damaged and gives you less return.

      • ohiojimw

        And maybe this Frazier deal makes this whole discussion OBE 🙂

        However, I do get what you are saying. I just think it is a wasted cause hoping to much except an org depth type out of Cozart at this point.

        Especially if BP is moved and Peraza is dropped in at 2B, let Suarez and him work together from day 1 up the middle.

    • Tradecosart

      Agree. Trade Co sat 1st. At least b.p. is entertaining to watch. Not many other reasons this year….

  3. WVRedlegs

    I thought a BP-Dusty reunion in Washington could be feasible. As you state, the value is in the salary relief and clears a hurdle for Bryan Price in deciding his middle infielders.
    The Nats have two middle infield prospects in 2B Chris Bostick 22 years old at the AA level that has some stats comparable to Blandino, but not quite. The other is a little higher rated and was a Sept. callup from AA for the Nats. He is Wilmer Difo, a SS/2B and 23 years old. He might be MLB ready, but may have to start at AAA. If he were included, I assume some cash might have to go Washington’s way.
    They have a couple of RH pitchers in Austin Voth and AJ Cole that could help with Cole being the higher rated prospect. That would make Voth more likely.
    But the Nats have this young 18 year old OF prospect named Victor Robles that is turning heads a the R/A- level. He would be a steal. Maybe he is far enough away from MLB that the Nats might consider him. Doubtful, but we can always hope.

  4. WVRedlegs

    Another option is the Nats helping the Reds with a little salary relief, and the Reds helping the Nats out with their bullpen problem.
    This is where the Reds could take on closer Drew Storen and his $8-9M approx salary for 2016. $27M for $9M but each team gets a solution to one of their off-season questions marks.

    • jdx19

      As long as we don’t have to take Papelbon!

      • CP

        I’d be willing to take on Papelbon if it meant getting a real prospect in return. Might want to check with the guys in the locker room first though.

      • Matt WI

        Something tells me Votto and Papelbon won’t be going out for chili!

      • Brian

        hey both papelbon and the reds don’t like harper and his attitude haha. would never want him to be a red though regardless of the situation.

      • CP

        To be fair, Votto probably doesn’t like chili. Poutine, though? He might be willing to sit through Papelbon talking about his fratboy days at Mississippi State.

      • Michael_Øk

        Whoops, forgot to subtract the Nationals. 😑

      • WVRedlegs

        I am partial to Storen. Younger (28 vs. 35), throws harder (94 vs. 90), throws a sinkerball, and doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract like Papelbon so a July trade, if it were to come to that, would be easier and less complicated.
        Me? I might try to extend Storen if the Reds got him.

      • doctor

        don’t forget he is an Indiana kid

      • reaganspad

        I like that scenario much more than a straight salary dump WV.

        We do not sign free agents no matter how much money we have available, so we need to bring value back for anyone we trade.

        I would rather have Phillips than just have $27 million. Now Papelbon or Storen coming back is much more interesting to me.

      • WVRedlegs

        If the Reds could get Storen, then sign him to a contract this winter for his final arb. year and maybe 2 of his FA years. Rememeber what Kimbrel got SD from Boston. Not that Storen is Kimbrel but not far off. Turning BP into Storen and then turning Storen into more prospects later has more upside than just what BP could bring.

      • CP

        Yeah, I mean I’d rather have Storen in a vacuum as well, but then the Nats have to make two trades.

        I don’t really care about Papelbon’s salary–the Reds are going to shed a lot of salary if they get rid of BP, Frazier, Chapman, and maybe Bruce. They can’t possibly spend it all. The Reds bullpen looks to once again be a dumpster fire, if they can improve this team, as well as future teams (via prospects) by taking on Papelbon’s contract, then go for it. Heck, they may spend all season talking about Papelbon taking on a leadership role and being a positive influence, then flip him for more prospects at a trade deadline.

      • Michael E

        I’d have no issue with getting Papelbon, not for the talent or attitude, but just because we gain a bargaining chip in trade talks (taking another teams headache) which means we can get a better deal. Papelbon can pitch, throw a tantrum, whatever, it will have no effect on a 95+ loss team.

        If Papelbon likes to crack “Your mom is so fat…” jokes, that ruin prospects ability to play baseball somehow, then yeah, don’t include him, otherwise, take him on and get a better deal.

  5. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I agree, the importance of the trade would be more of a salary dump. But, I wouldn’t say an upper level prospect was out of the picture.

  6. Dave

    Probably won’t happen but I would like to see them get OF MIchael Taylor.

  7. WVRedlegs

    BIG 3 team trade involving Frazier, Dodgers and WhiteSox.

    • Joe McManus

      Big wiff to me. I expected a much better return.

      • Michael E

        I did too, but Peraza is a TOP prospect, not some 150 or 200 prospect. So, they went quality over quantity (one high tier prospect over three middle tier ones). I would prefer to get a big all-purpose hitter, but Peraza can put the ball in play (didn’t know hitters could do that…;^) and runs like the wind, so he could be what we lack, an on-base machine for the top of the order.

      • TR

        It looks like the Reds have got the leadoff hitter they’ve needed for some time. Now if Phillips agrees to a trade to the Nats to rejoin Dusty maybe the Reds can get a pitcher to bolster the bullpen.

  8. abdul

    Yeah let him go. He’s a great fielder but too lazy to run to first base

    • Michael E

      This is what I see. I read others saying he has passion, he has fire, etc, but I see a mostly lazy, apathetic player.

  9. Jason

    Anybody know what Phillips could ask for in exchange for waiving his no trade rights? I can’t imagine he would get any kind of extension like other (younger) players have received. But you would think he would try to use the leverage to his advantage.

  10. sezwhom

    I admire BP as a Red, his defensive prowess plus all around game but its time to move him. He’s 35. Get what you can and move on. He’d probably do well under Dusty batting Cleanup. *sarcasm*