It’s official.

This trade wasn’t about “baseball economics.” It wasn’t a salary dump. In fact, just the opposite. The Reds are reportedly paying $13 million of the $14 million Brandon Phillips is owed in 2017. Ownership and front office put baseball considerations ahead of financial concerns.

This trade wasn’t about the players the Reds acquired in return. If either Andrew McKirahan or Carlos Portuondo make even a tiny contribution to the major league club it will be a surprise to all involved.

For weeks, Dick Williams has talked about the “tough decisions” the Reds front office was prepared to make. As word spread today that one of those decisions would be releasing Phillips at the end of spring training, it became clear the Phillips trade wasn’t even about more playing time for Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera. That was coming one way or another.

Today’s trade was about avoiding an awkward spring training, finding a graceful exit from Cincinnati for Brandon Phillips to his hometown and dodging an uncomfortable and possibly explosive situation right before Opening Day.

About The Author

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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66 Responses

  1. chrisscharmen

    Why does BP accept THIS trade to ATL and not the prior one? I’m so confused. Is it because it bites the Reds wallet so much more?

    • Chuck Schick

      I doubt the structure of the previous trade to ATL was any different. There wasn’t any reason for the Braves to play less of BP’s salary now vs a month ago.

      It’s possible that he gets his full salary for 2017 vs a portion being deferred. Also possible that the Reds finallly said take the trade or you will be released….you can leave as an all time great who was traded to his home town team and we will honor your contributions when the Braves come to town or we will simply dump you and not honor you anytime soon…if ever.

      • Matt

        No they weren’t going to release a player outright while paying him a 14 million dollar salary.
        It was on Atlanta’s that made the contract more desirable to Phillips as he was assured they would not trade him
        Or release him. He wants to end his career in Atlanta bc he grew up right outside of there.

      • Chuck Schick

        So they weren’t going to release someone who has vetoed 4 trades because he makes 14 million, but they’re willing to pay 13 million for him to play for someone else? That totally makes sense

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I read somewhere, I forget where, that the Braves agreed to a no-trade clause for Phillips in this remaining year of his contract. He did not want to be flipped at the trade deadline. Also, I read that the Braves added to his contract a cash payment in the event he is designated for assignment.

      • KetteringRedsFan

        That…and possibly one other item that may (emphasize -may- ) have been an issue in past dealings.

        I may be talking out of may hat here or misremembering, so use the really big grain of salt on this.

        The Castellini’s have made aggressive use of deferred compensation in past long-duration contracts. I don’t know whether this was an issue in BP’s contract, but lets hypothesize.

        At the time these commitments were made, several years ago – pre-crash, interest rates were higher than they are today. Thus the cash outlay to purchase deferred comp would have been less than it is today (Discounted Cash Flow 101). Now look at how the deferred payments contracts may have been structured:
        (a) To what extent were they transferrable obligations. Some form of compensation guarantee was an issue in the failed deal with the Nationals. If they were unwilling to pickup or fully fund the obligation, BP would have taken a pay cut.
        (b) (And it interacts with the point above) If any such contract exists was the actual expected commitment a fixed some of money paid annually – which would imply that, in today’s very low interest rate world) either buy less deferred comp (again a pay cut) or have required the ownership to stump up more cash, plus the issues (again) with assigning the obligation to a new club.

        Since the Reds are reputedly paying 13MM of the 14MM payout and the Braves are guaranteeing either no-trade or a DFA compensation adjustment, Brandon is being made whole financially in this deal. May have been an issue in the prior trade attempts.

        A good gesture by Reds management to acknowledge BP’s contribution and to settle in good will……and BP does to get to play at least one year in his hometown.
        But, yes, age decline and all, I’ll miss him. Now to see how the new pairing develops…should be something to look forward to.

      • ohiojimw

        Ken, I believe you are dead on. The persistent reports out of DC last off season were that the Nats told the Reds settle Phillips’ deferred comp; but, for whatever reason they couldn’t or wouldn’t get it done.

      • Pablo Robles

        I saw that also only that it was a limited no trade in that BP could block to 12 teams he had to list. One of them listed was the Yankees. 🙂

      • ohiojimw

        The original limited no trade clause in Phillips contract was simply superseded, not cancelled, by the full no trade protection he earned by achieving 10/5 status. It would come back into force once he waived and thereby surrendered his 10/5 rights.

    • sezwhom

      Because Braves 2B Sean Rodriguez will undergo surgery on his left shoulder next week due to a car accident. He’ll be out 3 to 5 months. Plus BP gets no-trade protection from Braves and assignment bonus. Nobody else wanted him and the Braves were in desperate need of a 2B until Rodriguez gets back That’s why!

    • Boon

      The Braves qctually gave in and are paying him a little extra salary, as they were not before

    • Dana Reddick (@DanaReddick)

      Simple, BP held all the cards then. Now, the team has playing time, PT baby, as their trump (shit, I have to change expression!) card. Any pending FA needs to play to convince future suitors of their worth. We NEED to see Perraza, Herrera, Alcantarra, Renda, and determine who are players,

  2. Pablo Robles

    There was no way the Reds were going to just release Brandon Phillips. Not going to buy into that. Even if Dick Williams came out and said that I wouldn’t believe him.

    The guy coming back from arm surgery had some impressive numbers prior to his injury. Maybe they just give him another year off before pitching again?

    • Thomas Jefferson

      What has DW done that makes you say that you won’t believe him?

  3. BigRedMike

    Give the FO credit, made a tough decision that had to be made. Not always easy.

    Glad BP is no longer on the Reds. Not sure exactly what the Reds rebuilding plan is, but, Phillips was certainly not part of it.

    Now, the Reds need to get some young bats.

    • lwblogger2

      With what? They are pretty much out of trade chips. They could trade DeSclafani but he’s perhaps the only SP they have that barring injury, will probably be above average.

  4. seat101

    The rains come to town on Friday the 18th Saturday the 19th and Sunday, 20 August.

    This might be a very good time for a Red Lake nation hook up.

    I bet they do some really great things over the weekend for Brandon.

    • seat101

      My voice recognition system has not improved since last season. Please substitute “brave” for “rain”

      Also please substitute “Redleg nation”for whatever my VR system put in

    • Steve

      Are you a Braves fan? The Braves will be in Cincinnati on June2,3,4

      • seat101

        I was talking about the last time the Braves will be in Cincinnati. I think that will be when the Reds are going to honor him.

      • Steve

        The Reds will be going to ATL on those dates. Jun 2,3,4 are only home games vs. the Braves in 2017.

      • lwblogger2

        I’ll buy tickets to one of the Reds/Braves games at GABP. That could be fun.

  5. gregteb

    Thanks to BP for the joy of watching him play for 11 years. He always had a smile on his face, looked like he was having lots of fun playing, and looked like his teammates enjoyed playing with him on the field. Will remember his days here fondly.

    • brunsfam

      Agree whole-heartedly! He’s a human highlight reel at 2b! What a joy to watch the right side of that IF for the past 10 years. We’ll miss you BP – especially your dislike of St. Louis!

  6. Redsman

    Well, hate to play ‘Devil’s advocate’, but this comes down to selling low…just like FO did with Aroldis. These two players are just organizational fodder. We still paying 13 million of his 14 million salary? Uggghhhhh! And two more like Renda/Randa…whoever the heck that guy we got from Yankees was?

    Making best out of a bad situation?

    • Bill

      Considering that he has refused multiple trades, it was a selling high vs selling low debate. Phillips was the one to decide when or if he was leaving, not the front office

    • Chuck Schick

      The 2 situations have nothing in common.

      One can reasonably opine that they could’ve -should’ve received more for Chapman. While there were ancillary factors that gave the Yankees more leverage over the Cubs
      ( suspension was over, the Yankees could afford to re-sign him, the Yankees were at least somewhat in contention) the Reds almost certainly left money on the table. The Reds allowed the circumstances to control their decisions.

      The Reds were at BP’s mercy the whole time. The veto’d trade to the Yankees a few years ago was seemingly a good deal for the Reds and the subsequent deals were less and less lucrative. The Reds theoretically could’ve worked out any number of positive trades for BP and all he had to do was say no. Difficult to fault the Reds ( or BP….his play earned him no trade and subsequently 5/10 rights).

  7. msanmoore

    Personally, I’d shell out 13MM points for this one … but my 2017 allotment isn’t in yet.

    It needed to happen, we paid $1MM less than if we released him and we got bodies for the minors. That’s about all we could really expect. I agree this was engineered for as graceful an exit as possible for BP. That’s enough for me as a fan. Onward to 2017 and beyond!

    • seat101

      For a while there the Reds/Phillips situation was a lot like that country and western song “how can I miss you when you won’t even go?”

  8. Rick

    He was the best clutch hitter on this terrible team an he is the best fielder on this team an instead of getting rid of Suarez who is terrible at 3rd base. What kind of baseball minds are running this organization is beyond me. Jockerty you need to retire because your terrible an take dick Williams with you

    • Bill

      I think we must be watching different games

    • Chuck Schick

      There are no quantifiable numbers that show him to be a particularly “clutch” hitter. If anything, his willingness to swing at anything hurt in RISP situations.

      He was a great fielder…the Spanish Armada once ruled the world. Things change. He was amongst the worst players in baseball at his position last year and 35 year old players tend to not age well.

      Suarez is a better player than BP at this point. It isn’t close.

      Perhaps you missed Jocketty’s retirement. It made the paper and was on the news. Jocketty had as much to do with this deal as Murray Cook, Bob Quinn or Princess Leah

  9. vegastypo

    Sean Rodriguez got hurt, and then the Braves were said to be interested in Chase Utley, but he re-signed with the Dodgers. Might have been convenient for the Reds the way those events happened.

  10. catcard202

    Frankly, the FO used up all of BP’s value & flipped him when the sunken cost was already set in dry ink…If they had expected anything in return, they never should have allowed BP to get to full 5/10 no-trade rights!!! They failed to dealt him beforehand, due to a “winning window” & are still kicking themselves in the ass over the last couple yrs of his current contract. (Remember how he called the FO out for signing Joey to his deal & not paying him like he was face of the franchise??? I know Bob C does!!!)

    To be perfectly honest, the Reds should also do everything in their power to convince Joey to go home to Toronto or another major AL market like DET/NY/BOS (should an opportunity present itself!).. The back end of his 10yr/$225M contract will be an albatross in short order, unless the NL implements the DH in 2020.

    I love him, but it’s the truth…CIN will never have the coin to keep our best, long-term. The Reds have to leave some meat on the bone & trade assets with value, to afford to keep fresh meat stockpiled in the cupboard! They can only do so much in the draft & on the international market, especially when competing against clubs with MASSIVE financial advantages & that are 2-3 steps ahead with their own “Moneyball + Money” MLB domination plans.

    • lwblogger2

      I think WAY too much is made of his bad-mouthing the Votto deal versus his own deal. Honestly, if the big guy was that upset about it, then BP would have been gone. I think there is a portion of the fanbase that is much more upset about that article than the Reds ownership group was. BP had a limited no-trade clause and blocked a trade to the Yankees before his 10/5 rights. That said, if Bob C was really angry about his comments and wanted him gone, he’d have been gone a long, long time ago.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Let me speculate and add a layer of complexity to this part of the history. I was convinced Phillips was going to be traded after calling the ownership liars twice and the C Trent Rosecrans blow up. This was October 2013, before Phillips had earned his 10/5 rights. The Reds tried hard to trade him – and it wasn’t like they had an obvious replacement coming up at 2B.

        But this was after a third consecutive year of declining production for Phillips. He was 33, with four years of guaranteed contract. The Reds acted like they would get a star player in return. But the market wasn’t so robust. After lots of effort, the front office, including ownership, decided the PR hit of giving away Phillips for an insufficient return **when the Reds were gearing up to make another big run** was too hard. So they backed off efforts to trade him. After that, the 10/5 kicked in.

      • lwblogger2

        Certainly plausible Steve. I don’t think you’re stretching too hard. They did try to trade him to the Yankees after all. They had a deal in place for Gardner if I recall correctly.

  11. Steve Schoenbaechler

    This is just a move to open up the infield. Frankly, BP ought to be glad the Reds traded him off, also. He wasn’t going to get much time here. So, his numbers were going to go down. Making the thought of an extention after this season less likely.

    I would have liked to have gotten a bit more in return. But, the idea of this trade wasn’t what we get in return. It’s allowing us to play the young studs.

    The lefty could help us if he can come back from a 2nd TJ surgery. From what I read, he had a decent fastball. He’d only be a reliever. Maybe a LOOGY? The other guy, from what I read (only read a little on each) isn’t much, probably won’t mean anything.

    I am sorry to see BP go. He worked hard here for us. But, it was just time. He’s been slipping a little bit each year for several years now, even since from what I remember the banana-in-the-tailpipe against the Phillies to last year when I believe it was a right handed slow running hitter on the Nats outran a simple groundball to BP for an infield hit. BP simply fielded it like it was nothing, just another routine play. The runner obviously didn’t take it as such and beat it out.

    I’m going to find it interesting how this team shapes up. For instance, I can see Peraza and “the other guy” (just can’t think of his name now, I believe the Cuban we signed) playing the middle and maybe even betting up in the lineup. But, I thought we were looking at Winker to do that, also. Myself, I don’t see why we bring Winker up here if we are only going to platoon him with someone else. Also, if he can prove he can get on-base like he has in the minors, he would be valuable up in the order, I believe. I really don’t care about power with Winker. We need people on base for the power hitters. Winker is one who can get on base. I’m not saying Winker will or won’t be starting, platooning, etc. I’m just saying it’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out. I’m also saying I don’t quite understand platooning our best hitting prospect. I would think Winker would be a regular starter, starting to bat low in the lineup. Then, if his OBP is better than the #2 hitter we have up there, I believe Winker may be moved up.

  12. TR

    A necessary move by the front office. Now if Cozart can be traded, the rebuild will move ahead with the young guys front and center. I’ll miss Brandon Phillips; a fine ballplayer for the Reds for many years.

  13. Earl Nash

    I figure Cozart might hang around for a while as he could be a nice trade chip if a big money club were to lose a SS to an injury. Peraza’s got some utility, so he can get some games playing around a bit in the outfield, he could get 3 starts a week subbing in Center, Short and second.

    Winkler’s arrival I bet depends on Schebler and Billy Hamilton being able to stay healthy. I would believe him more coming up later in the year after Cozart is dealt and/or injury.

    • ohiojimw

      If the Reds were willing spend $13M to move Phillips, I think that suggests just how little of a market there has been for Cozart to date given he is due just over $5M. It seems to me nobody is willing to take him at any cost until they see him on the field playing, producing, and staying healthy.

      • JoshG

        the problem is no one needs a SS….
        if there is an injury to a contending teams SS, then good chance for Cozart to be dealt.

  14. CI3J

    Now that Phillips is gone, are Votto, Homer, and Cozart the only ones left from the last playoff team?

    • CTRedsFan

      Wasn’t Hamilton a late season call up and reserve on the last playoff team? If I remember correctly he was used mainly as a pinch runner late in games.

      • redsfan11

        I remember Dusty debating whether or not to add Billy to the playoff roster in 2013 but can’t remember if he made the squad or not.

        Also possibly Cigrani and Jumbo were on the 2013 team as well??

    • Shchi Cossack

      Mesoraco, Cingrani & Hamilton…

      Cingrani may have been shut down prior to the playoffs and Hamilton was a September promotion, but Mesoraco made a late appearance in the playoff game in Pittsburgh.

  15. Eric The Red

    If Cozart isn’t traded very soon, any chance Peraza plays SS and they let Cozart start the year at 2B while Herrera gets more work at Louisville? If you leave Cozart at SS then Peraza is playing out of his (future) position; if you put Cozart at 2B, maybe you make him even more valuable as a trade chip.

    • redsfan11

      If getting your prospects up to speed as quickly as possible is the goal then I would prioritize Peraza’s playing time now. I agree moving Cozart out of position may be the better option. Have Cozart play 2nd most of the time unless Peraza is filling in at center then have him play SS, this way Peraza gets exposure at SS and Center and Cozart shows versatility. And Billy gets some regular rest. After the super two the dynamic changes as then it would be prudent to get Herraa regular playing time as well.

      • TonyCbus

        Herrera already has over 100 days of service time. I don’t think there’s any need to worry about his service time, nor do I think there’s much you can do.

  16. gaffer

    Steve, are you on the front office payroll?

    “Today’s trade was about avoiding an awkward spring training, finding a graceful exit from Cincinnati for Brandon Phillips to his hometown and dodging an uncomfortable and possibly explosive situation right before Opening Day”

    That is as big a can of horse manure as I have ever heard. I agree that the FO wants fans to think that but only the most ignorant baseball fan would believe that line.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I provided my reasoning. If the Reds had already decided to release Phillips at the end of spring training, then what was the purpose of the trade? Not mainly for the $1 million and two no-prospect prospects. Instead of just name-calling, how about actually defending your point of view.

    • greenmtred

      What about that line do you not believe? And what was the trade about, if not that?

    • Vicferrari

      Gaffer you act like there is some conspiracy, I guess I might be an ignorant fan as this makes sense to me. Tell us what the intelligent fans know as the truth.

  17. Shchi Cossack

    The Old Cossack really appreciated all the scouting updates provided by Tom Diesman. After reviewing all of the information provided and the statistical performances by Andrew McKirahan & Carlos Portuondo, I have to agree with the consensus that the 29-year-old Portuondo represents nothing more than minor league fill with an extreme long shot at ever making a major league contribution.

    The 27-year-old (and just turned 27) McKirahan looks like a different story, with the key being the health of his left arm. This is a relief pitcher deemed major league ready in 2015 with major league peripherals that supported that status. While his ERAwas poor in an extended look at the major league level, his 3.79 FIP was nothing to sneeze at. A 7.2 SO/9. 0.7 HR/9 and 2.20 SO/W can play at the major league level in a middle relief role. In addition, McKirahan had signicant success in 2014 at both the A+ and AA levels.

    The 2nd TJ surgery that wiped out McKirahan’s entire 2016 season represents a serious concern, but no more than taking a flier on Storen. The difference is the future plans for McKirahan vs Storen. Storen will provide future value only by being successful so the Reds can flip him for prospects later this season. McKirahan will provide future value only by being successful so he can compete for a relief role in the GABP bullpen. If McKirahan comes back from his TJ surgery (and I understand that’s a big IF), he’s right there in the competition for a future bullpen role with Ismael Guillon & Nick Routt as non-roster LH relievers and possibly even Wandy Peralta. The key might be getting McKirahan to work inside effectively to LH hitters, but the Reds minor league coaches have plenty of time to work him in slowly this season with an eye to the 2018 season for serious competition for a spot in the major league bullpen

  18. lwblogger2

    Ok, forget the next few years and lets focus on 2017… I don’t like strictly using WAR to compare players but for this exercise, it would be a quick and dirty way to compare production at 2B. So, the question is, in 2017, who ends up with better overall production at 2B, the Reds or BP? This gives the Reds a slight advantage too as they will have a full 162 games of 2B production versus however many games BP plays at the keystone. For that reason, I’ll say that the Reds will have better overall production, although it will be closer than many here might think.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Agreed, I see both BP and Peraza as 1-1.5 WAR players this year. But, I think Peraza has a chance to go 2-2.5, where BP has no chance for that.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m hoping that Peraza spends most his time at SS though.

  19. sandman

    Well, I bet y’all are happy! I didn’t know that they were planning on releasing BP at the end of spring training. Didn’t know Williams had that in him. What gets me is all these people who were spewing all this negativity BP’s way and now that he’s gone they wanna be all like, “thanks BP for everything you’ve done, good luck in your next chapter” and starting to remember him fondly. That’s two-faced if you ask me. I don’t care what anyone says. Whatever.

  20. sandman

    Oh, and I wonder how long it’ll be before I start seeing Peraza/Phillips numbers comparisons so everyone can start showing how good Peraza is (assuming he is, might laugh if he’s a bust) and how the trade was justified. Someone will probably say that the trade was justified bcuz he was 35 yrs old and declining defensively. Same ol, same ol.

    • Vicferrari

      Not sure I get your point, in what scenario does playing BP regularly as Red help them in 2018? I feel they should not have given him away, but made him be a bench player, PH, role players, part-time player, etc…if he was a distraction cut him in May if you could not give him away. My feeling is he would have stepped up and been a good teammate, but it almost seems like you are rooting for Peraza to fail

      • sandman

        Vicferrari, I’m not rooting for Peraza to fail, ok. He’s who we’re stuck with for now. I’ll be glad that he does well (if he does). I’m just bummed that BP is gone. But, that being said, I’m not gonna be a personal fan of any of the new Reds from here on out. Votto will be the last. I believe one can not be a personal fan of a plyr but can still hope he does well for my team. Really don’t understand why/how people are talking in love with these new kids and they ain’t even done nothing yet. If it’s based on what people think it believe they will do in the future, that’s just ridiculous imo. Got to win and be consistently good to prove themselves to me.

      • sandman

        “Falling in love” & “think or believe”