Brandon Phillips Finally Gets Traded, But Joins Another Rebuilding MLB Team
Dat Dude finally decided to let dat team trade him to dat other team.
Over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves agreed on a deal that sent three-time All Star second baseman Brandon Phillips to Atlanta in exchange for two minor league pitchers. Phillips, who had full 10-and-5 no-trade rights (he's been a Major Leaguer for 10 years and been on the same team for the last 5), turned down trade deals to the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks last offseason, along with an earlier trade to the Braves a couple months ago.
Now, it seems as though a lack of playing time in Cincinnati was enough to light some fire under Phillips' feet.
Atlanta was motivated to make the deal after free-agent acquisition Sean Rodriguez was injured in an auto accident back on January 28 in which he banged up his left shoulder. The Braves thought it would have healed by now, but lingering pain means Rodriguez could potentially miss all of 2017.
But even when Rodriguez is healthy, Phillips is likely to see more playing time with the Braves than with Cincinnati, the team he had been with since 2006.
A Down Season
One year after posting a 3.5-WAR season, according to Baseball Reference, the 35-year-old put together his worst performance since first joining the Reds 11 years ago.
His .291 batting average was solid, but he only walked in 3.1% of his plate appearances, a career low. That led to a .320 on-base percentage, which isn't awful but also isn't great. He did hit 11 homers and stole 14 bases, but only put up a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 92, the fourth straight season of below-average run production.
His bWAR of 0.8 last season was due in large part to poor defensive metrics. His defensive WAR (dWAR), as calculated by Baseball Reference, was -0.5, his first negative number since '06. His -7 defensive runs saved (DRS) was 18th among 21 qualified second baseman in baseball last year.
After being one of the better defensive second basemen in baseball, the numbers say he took a step back last season.
Just not on this play.
It wasn't all bad in 2016, though. He did manage to pull off this fancy little maneuver.
Why Atlanta Said Yes
Even though the Braves are rebuilding, they needed someone competent at second with Rodriguez's status in doubt. And while he's mostly a league-average second baseman with both the stick and the glove, that's certainly better than a below replacement level player.
In addition, the Reds have agreed to pay $13 million of Phillips' $14 million contract for this season.
The Braves clearly don't want to tank and try finishing with the worst record in baseball this year, and this move makes them just a little more competitive in the NL East. It won't move the needle much, but it does give them someone decent to throw into the mix at second.
Why Cincinnati Said Yes
Well, Cincinnati said yes because Phillips finally said yes. The Reds had tried to trade him on multiple occasions, only to have Phillips veto those earlier attempts. The Reds have two younger players in Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera to whom they would like to give a majority of the playing time to.
In 72 games and 256 plate appearances last year, Peraza was actually pretty good, batting .324/.352/.411 at a number of different positions. His wRC+ of 103 was a bit better than Phillips', although his defensive numbers showed him to be a bit below league average in the field. But the Reds are willing to roll the dice that a 22-year-old can increase his 2.7% walk rate and improve his defense over a guy in his mid-30s.
The 21-year-old Herrera spent all of last year in Triple-A with the Mets and then the Reds, where he hit .274/.335/.456 with 15 dingers and 24 doubles in 469 plate appearances. Both players are right-handed hitters and both could vie for playing time with Cincinnati in 2017.
One of the issues with dealing Phillips in the past was his full 10-and-5 no-trade rights, but those go away now that he has been dealt. However, Atlanta must still deal with a 12-team, limited no-trade clause in his contract. They've also guaranteed to pay him an additional $500,000 if Atlanta feels it's in the best interest of the organization to trade him sometime this year.
At the end of the day, the Reds add by subtraction, and Atlanta gets a competent player to get them through Rodriguez's injury, however long that may be.
It was a smart move by all, including Phillips, who could have told his team no a fourth time, but didn't.