2016 Reds / 2017 Reds

Brandon Phillips and the Future

Mark Sheldon talked with Brandon Phillips about next season:

Last winter, Phillips used his no-trade rights to block being dealt to the Nationals. Was he expecting the Reds to revisit moving him and does he want to be dealt?

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Phillips said. “That one thing that’s not really on my mind. I’m just trying to finish the season strong and whatever happens, happens. I can’t really control what’s going on, what the Reds want or what I want. All I know is I want to finish strong for this team. I’m still a Red. I’m happy. I still have another year on my contract and I’m happy with that. You never know what the future really holds. Just look at the present and enjoy it while you can.”

I dunno, that quote makes me kinda optimistic. Sounds like BP might be more receptive to a trade this off-season. It’s difficult to believe that there will be much of a market for a 36-year-old second baseman whose defense has fallen off a cliff (this is his worst defensive season in a decade) and who is barely above replacement level. But Phillips has certainly hit well in the second half (after we all gave him up for dead), so maybe there’s some trade value there.

I think we’re going to learn a lot about how the Reds are approaching this rebuilding process by what they do with Phillips over the coming months. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again…but if Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart are the starting middle infielders on Opening Day for the 2017 Reds, it will indicate to me that this organization isn’t willing to make the hard choices that need to be made in order for this “rebuild” to be as quick a process as possible.

And I’m perfectly willing to concede that this would be an exceptionally difficult decision for Reds’ management to make. Phillips and Cozart have had great careers in the red and white uniforms. I’ve enjoyed watching both of those guys, I will be sad to see them go, and I will remember both of them fondly. BP will be a Reds Hall of Famer some day.

But listen, this club has Dilson Herrera and Jose Peraza and Eugenio Suarez, and by the end of next season, they may have Nick Senzel in the infield mix (and Tony Renda and Alfredo Rodriguez…). At some point, you have to see what those players are capable of. I’m of the opinion that we should have reached that point this year, but what do I know?

(Don’t answer that.)

Stay tuned…

35 thoughts on “Brandon Phillips and the Future

  1. I know there is a lot of speculation about why BP turned the Nationals down…but if he wants a World Series ring, that would have given him a good chance. The Nats ended up with Murphy, so I bet they’re happy with the outcome. If the rebuild does not happen quickly, I see Votto asking to be traded and help make it happen, ala Ken Griffey Jr..

  2. With Cozart’s recent injuries, I doubt that there is much of a market for him, but I’d take whatever the best offer is. If nobody offers anything, then they have the option of non-tendering him, because otherwise they have to spend $3mm or so from arbitration.

    I don’t think that they really want Phillips around next year, even in spring training, so I expect him to be traded somewhere,with the Reds picking up almost all of his salary. If he refuses the trade, they should just release him. I’m not even sure if any other team would take him for even the minimum salary, because all he can do is play second base. Maybe a very small market team would take him with the idea of trading him to a contender at the deadline.

    • There’s no reason Phillips couldn’t play at 1B; and, he could probably do a passable job in LF (a la Rickie Weeks) and maybe even 3B.

      If JV wasn’t setting the world afire with his historic 2nd half, BP’s second half offense would probably be getting similar play in the local media at least.

      Thus I think BP has significant utility for a team that believes he can carry forward into 2017 and end up with numbers similar to what his full season numbers for this year are going to be unless he goes 0fer for the last week of the season. Of course they are probably want the Reds to pay half his 2017 salary plus clear up the deferred obligation issue that supposed played a large part in the scenario with the Nats.

  3. I really hope he is moved, but I don’t have much faith in management to be able to make that tough call. I just think it will be much easier for them to try to trade Cozart and play out the string with Phillips. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like either of them will bring back much in prospects, but both need to be moved to usher in the future. If it comes down to money, just about any reasonable amount should be worth it to them to get Phillips to move. The Reds cut a ton of payroll the last two seasons and will have cheap replacements that are actual prospects to come up over the next several years.

    My hope is that the opening day line up is announced and it includes Herrera and Peraza in the middle infield. My fear is that Cozart will be at the top of the order and Phillips in the middle. There was no reason to go out and pick near-readiness over prospect value if you weren’t planning on playing them as soon as possible.

    Service time considerations are one thing, but Herrera has already played enough to lose prospect status. I’m not exactly sure what his option status is, but he was up in 14 and 15, and would have had to have been optioned down in 16 at ST. At the very least this is his last option year. Do the Reds really want to limit their options (pun intended) by having Herrera spend it in AAA?

    • Cot’s contracts doesn’t specifically list options and option status but “tea leaves” there infer Dilson Herrera has one option year left.

      He was added to the 40 man roster of Metz in late August of 2014, so no option was used there. He was subsequently optioned in 2015 and 2016, That means he has 1 option year left unless by some wrinkle he was not charged with an option used for ’15 or ’16 (like with Lorenzen last year with the Reds).

  4. I have immensely enjoyed watching Phillips defensive wizardry. Even without the unecessary flamboyance and flash, there was substance behind his defense. That is gone and that is disappointing and painful to watch.

    Phillips ranks 20th of 21 qualifying 2B with 14 errors and a .977 fpct. That’s not just below average, its outright bad. What we have left is the attempts at flamboyance and flash that just exacerbate the decline.

    In the last game against the Cubs, Phillips ranged far into RF to field a popup and refused to yield the Selsky who was coming in for an easy catch. Selsky yeilded to avoid the collision and Phillips had a grand time showboating. Selsky did not look pleased. Later in the same game, Phillips ranged far into CF to field a popup and was refusing to yield to Schebler coming in for the easy catch. Schebler had not taken charge of a similar situation in the previous game with Votto ranging far into RF and almost certainly heard about it from the coaching staff afterwards when Votto was unable to make a much more difficult play on the ball. This time Schebler rightfully refused to yield and Phiilips jumped out of the way at the last second. Neither Phillips nor Schebler looked pleased. Veteran leadership is missing from Phillips contributions.

    The team is falling apart at the end of the season for the second year in a row. Hard decisions need to be made and not making those hard decisions should no longer be an option.

    • Plus on the hard decisions. Phillips, Cozart, the bullpen, and the bench top my list as barometer moves or nonmoves.

      And I’m going to throw in another one I’ve been cogitating on for a couple of weeks. I don’t feel like they should waste a 40 man roster spot over the winter on Mesoraco given the tough decisions they have coming there with guys up to need protection for the first time. Take the risk of outrighting Meso. If there’s another team willing to take on the $21M or so remaining in sunken cost on him, so be it. Certainly, he isn’t going to forfeit the money by refusing an outright. Bring him into camp as an invitee and when he proves he is healthy enough to play at least half time, put him back onto the MLB roster.

      • Jim, the DFA for Mesoraco has merit. There is certainly risk in such a move, but such a move would be a clear signal that the front office was taking a more professional management approach to the roster. Two season of zero production was unavoidable, but those 2 seasons cost just $7MM. The Reds seem very comfortable throwing around $7MM. There’s $20.5MM on the table for the next 2 seasons.

        If the Reds do DFA Mesoraco, I have no doubt that a big pocket club needing a catcher or bat would step up and take on that contract, even for a possible DH. I persoanlly think Mesoraco could still produce, but I don’t know if the Reds should take that risk at this point and with Mesoraco’s medical history.

        Losing Mesoraco would put a real crimp in the rebuild, but he may already be lost. Even considering this discussion feels like a severe gut punch for this Reds fan.

        • No one would pick up the contract….that would be sheer idiocy. The Reds are stuck with him for the next 2 years.

        • Outrighting Mesoraco is not the same as cutting bait on him. If he clears waivers and accepts the outright, he is still under (the same) contract with the Reds. The issue is whether it is worth the risk that a team would claim him on waivers or that he would refuse the assignment and become a free agent.

          If he clears and refuses the assignment, he forfeits the remaining money on the contract. There is no sane universe where he is going to do that.

          So, it comes down to this. Is there an org that is going to risk $20.5M on a catcher coming into his age 29 season with career (BBREF) net WAR of of 3.6 virtually all of which was earned in a single season going on three seasons ago before he had reconstructive surgery on both hips and major surgery on his non-throwing but bat leading shoulder. In the succeeding two seasons, the player has recorded -0.5 WAR in 104PAs over 39 games. The term of the remaining contract is 2 years; and, the player will be a free agent at that time.

          Bear in mind because this is a waiver claim process, a claiming team would not have the luxury of a pre-signing physical exam. Nor would they have access to the Reds medical records beyond what had been forwarded to the MLB injury database. While I do not know for certain, I would guess that neither would a potential claimant team be permitted to contact the player or his reps prior to being awarded him on a claim. Additionally the team would have only 48 hours to make their decision. This is caveat emptor in its purest form.

          I doubt that any team, regardless of its wealth is going to throw $20M plus to the winds on such a blind claim. If they do, they do; and, the Reds have saved $20M to spend on players who are more likely to make $20M worth of contribution over the next 2 years..

      • It’s an interesting thought. But who are we thinking needs to be protected that can’t be added to the 40 man because Mez is taking up a spot? Don’t they have some open spots even now? They’re also going to have few more openings after the season is done. I guess I would want to have a clearer picture of the goal before going down that path.

        • Doug did a piece on his site about the logjam for 40 man spots ahead of this December’s Rule 5 draft.

          http://redsminorleagues.com/2016/08/10/early-look-protect-rule-5-draft/

          He listed nine guys from his top 25 Reds prospects that need to go onto the 40 man; or, they be exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

          He also listed an additional 14 guys not on his top 25 prospects list who are in the same situation; and; there are some familiar names also on that list. There are even guys on this 2nd list that the Reds selected to go to the Arizona Fall League.

          So any way a person looks at it spots will be at a premium; and, the Reds may well lose a couple of players.

        • Thanks for the link to Doug’s article, Jim. The one thing that bears emphasizing is that a guy taken off another team’s 40-man has to stay on the acquiring team’s 25-man or be offered back. How many guys who we would be unable to protect would actually be able to stick with their new team’s 25-man roster all season long? Some, of course, but there have to be enough guys not major-league-ready yet that the Reds could reasonably leave them unprotected.

  5. IMO, it really seems like an easy decision based on what the Reds front office wants to do.

    If they want to be competitive again sooner than later and truly believe 2018 will be a contention year, they have to cut bait with both Cozart and BP, whatever that may mean.

    If they want to let Cozart and BP ride off into the sunset, then it’s obvious winning isn’t number 1 priority and they’re only delaying the next good Reds team

    • If it comes down to it then, you’d advocate a DFA or outright release of BP? I just don’t think that sends the right message to baseball players and general baseball people? The Reds FO needs to find some way to move BP that works for BP and for the team. If they need to fork over a lot of money to do so, then so be it. They can’t just cut him and more than likely, whatever they do isn’t going to end up costing the $13-million that an outright release would end up costing them.

  6. Agree 100%. We already should be seeing others in the infield. Phillips and Cozart just stunt the rebuilding process by that much time. Would love to see Peraza everyday in the infield. If Phillips won’t accept a trade then he has to be an expensive bench player unfortunately for us.

    • We also should be tanking this last week of games. We could have the #2 pick or the #8 pick depending on how this next week plays out and a big difference in signing pool $s. The #2 pick will get you another Senzel type player which we desperately need.

    • If the Reds end up having to keep both Cozart and Phillips, why not platoon Phillips Cozart and Peraza, with Peraza playing nearly every day between short and 2nd (as long as Phillips and Cozart perform that is

  7. The Reds need to part ways with Phillips and Cozart. The future can not wait until 2018. My guess is Mesoraco will never be a productive every day catcher. He was never good defensively or a good framer of pitches.He had a good 3 months of hitting in 2014 but his final 2 months were awful. He will be a wasted $20 million over the next 2 years. This is a bad break for the Reds. Votto may agree to a trade to a contender but the Reds will need to finance some of it (the final 2-3 years) to make it happen. If both Bautista and Encarnacion leave Toronto as free agents the Blue Jays may have enough cash to consider Votto.

    The Reds will lose 95+ games in 2017 and 2018. There is not nearly enough talent to compete. Both pitching and position player talent is woefully weak. The Reds will hire and fire at least 2 managers following Price before they contend for the playoffs. I would love to be more optimistic but when you look at the players in Reds organization and compare them with other teams it is apparent the Reds come up short. The Reds have been dead in the water since 2012. Things will not get better soon. We are paying the price for very poor drafting and player development. Hopefully it will get better.

    In the meantime can anyone explain why the Reds spent $7 million to sign a 22 year old good field, no hit shortstop with the 6th pick in the international draft to play in a hitters park? Three shortstops were drafted ahead of the Reds pick and we’re signed for half the price.

    • Everyone thought Peraza was a no-hit prospect when we acquired him. Take a look what he’s been doing

      • The knock on Peraza’s offense was in that his OBP was completely tied to his AVG due to him not ever wanting to take a walk. He also had very little power. He’s always hit for average though, so there was/is a chance that his ability to make consistent, solid contact may lead to a higher than average BABIP. In other words, he may be able to hit for a fairly high average. Rodriguez has never hit for average or power. He also doesn’t have Peraza’s speed. There are even some questions about rather his arm is good enough for him to be considered an elite defender at SS. In other words, there are more questions about Rodriguez than there ever were about Peraza and there are still questions about Peraza (such as can he hit at all for a full season?)

        Now, the Reds feel that he has offensive potential and they’ve actually seen him do baseball related activities and I’m hoping their trained eye is better than what the pundits are saying. That said, I don’t think that the issues with Peraza that people were vocal about were as worrying as the perceived shortcomings of Gonzalez.

    • I know you’ve been beating the drum of pessimism, and far be it from me to get in the way of somebody being negative if that’s what they want, but on what basis are you concluding that the Reds lose 95+ the next 2 season?

      It’s not like the Cards and Pirates are getting better. So that’s 2 divisional opponents that they can grab wins from. And nothing I’ve seen from the young guys so far has left me to despair that there’s no chance they’ll improve. That should also lead to more wins.

      Not saying they’ll be in the playoff hunt next year but they’ll be closer to 81 losses than they will 95.

      Btw, agree with you on the AlfRod signing. That was a head scratcher.

  8. I think Phillips defense lapses goes to all the nagging injuries that he has had this season. I hope the Reds resign him for another 2 or 3 years. No evidence that a replacement player will be nearly as good as BP.

    • you need evidence? I Imagine Peraza or Herrera would do as well or better than BP overall at 2B. But if DatDude is here, we won’t find out for a while…

      I tend to think nagging injuries with BP represent both the aging process and also an unwillingness to take care of himself.

    • Please tell me you’re trying to troll us, because otherwise, this is not a very astute comment. If the Reds did something this asinine, they would proving that they have taken a step backwards. I love what BP has done, but there is plenty of proof that he is one of the worst 2nd baseman this year. Did you not read when they stated that he ranked 20/21 in fielding percentage and errors?

      • But his overall fielding metrics say that he’s been about average (DRS says below average and UZR says darn near average). The eye test tends to agree that he’s been about average . I agree that BP needs to be moved but it doesn’t take a whole lot of squinting to see that he still provides some value as an MLB 2B.

  9. I’m still laughing that Phillips said, “I can’t really control what’s going on, what the Reds want or what I want.” ………. If he had no control over things, he’d have been with the Nationals this season!!!

    I don’t have much confidence in the Reds to free up second base, though it sure looks like the right thing to do. If only the Reds had made that deal with the Mariners at the deadline for Cozart.

    And I’m fascinated by the idea of taking Mes off the 40-man and seeing if any other teams take the risk.

    • The rumored return from the Mariners for Cozart was OF Tyler O’Niell. A couple of weeks ago, Baseball America named Tyler O’Niell their AA Player of the Year. He finished with a .293/.374/.508 with 26 Doubles, 24 HR, 102 RBI, 12 SB.
      That would have been a huge coup if the Reds had closed that deal. Oh well.

      • You aren’t kidding. Where did you see that? I think the M’s would have been mad to make that deal.

    • I also really questioned that “no control” comment as it referred to himself. I still wonder if the situation with the Nats had a lot (and possibly) everything to do with the settling of his deferred payments. At the time it all went down, on the Nats end most of the coverage was about the Nats insistence that the Reds settle the deferred comp outside of the deal while on the Cincy end the talk was about BP wanting the year extension and the Nats balking. So in essence, each team was pointing the finger at the other side and inferring the deal collapsed because the other side wouldn’t ante up.

      I found it very interesting that both orgs apparently thought the player should be willing to pay a premium for the chance to play on a contender.

  10. I loved Phillips for year and Cozart has been one of my favs too. Phillips has to go.. I’m sad to say but too many guys are ready to replace him at better production.

    Cozart , well I would like to see him go but I, don’t thing there is anyone out there going to take him. I say let him be a bench player if we can’t find a home for him. Unlike Phillips Cozart might be a good teacher. especially on defense

    I’m really impressed with Penaza

    • I wouldn’t be shocked if BP is the everyday 2B next season. He’s had a great Reds career, is a Reds Hall of Famer, and I think the Reds let him play out his contract. My prediction: Reds trade Cozart in offseason, make Peraza the everyday SS, Phillips announces 2017 will be his final season, and he retires a Red and the Reds roll out the “Red” carpet for him. Not saying I agree with this (I think it would be best if the Reds could move on from him this offseason), but just cutting him outright would be sort of a PR nightmare. BP is one of, if not the most popular Reds players.

  11. 1) I think everyone is ovemphasizing the “these guys need to play up here” and “we have to see what we’ve got” aspects of the rebuild. Dillon Hererra can develop at AAA, and still contribute in 2018 at the MLB level. The only “wrong answer” is to bring him up and then not play him.

    2) If we can’t unload BP in a way that provides a lot of salary relief, then having him play for us when healthy is OK. If he gets one of his “nagging injuries” then we should pull the DL trigger much more quickly than in the past. But a healthy BP probably helps us win more games next year, will really help with putting more people in the seats (think of the bobble heads!), and could be tradable at the deadline if a playoff-caliber team has an injury and BP wants a shot at a ring.

    3) Cozart is a trade chip. Right now, thanks to overplaying him throughout the season until he broke down, he isn’t very valuable. The guiding factor for managing him should be: how do we get the most out of this chip? If he needs to start the year at SS to rebuild value, then that’s what should happen. Even half a season of him “blocking” someone is worth it if he nets us a meaningfully better player than trading him right now would get us.

    In short: 2018 and 2019 will not be destroyed by having some guys play in AAA in 2017 instead of MLB.

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