Sure, GM Walt Jocketty may finally be saying all the right things about Brandon Phillips and his status with the Cincinnati Reds in 2014, but it’s a little difficult to take him at face value, no?
If anything, the team now addressing the rumors now sounds more like a concession than anything. Not that they were necessarily forced to move him, of course, but an educated guess would have indicated that they wanted to, what with the team having a long-term contract to sign with Jay Bruce down the line while still looking for offense in the outfield.
Now that the second base market has cleared a bit, however, whether a beneficial trade for the Reds can be fair is much more questionable.
The biggest chip to fall in the equation was no doubt Robinson Cano‘s
lifetime 10-year deal with the Seattle Mariners, but you could also point to the Prince Fielder–Ian Kinsler trade as having set the table as well as far as Phillips’ suitors go. In fact, the Tigers would have probably been in a pretty good position to be a dance partner with the Reds on paper, though we know now that a major part of their motivation was to move Fielder’s contract as well.
So where does this leave Cincinnati? Well, it’s not as if there aren’t going to be interested parties, but it’s really more about what they’re able to get out of them.
The Yankees are no doubt a suitor, though their attention might be more focused on free agent Omar Infante; besides, what could they offer the Reds that would really be of the same kind of value that Phillips adds to the team? Perhaps Brett Gardner could be in play? Reports suggest that the Yankees might still be after former Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, so it’s a possibility, but it’s hard to see the Yankees wanting to make a Gardner deal unless another couple of chips fall in the right places … which is to say that it’s by no means a guarantee.
Another trade partner could be the Toronto Blue Jays, who have a major hole at second but have depth in the outfield. However, the Reds are surely not looking to deal Phillips for a prospect like Anthony Gose, and it’s unlikely that Phillips would get them a star like Jose Bautista in an one-for-one swap. So, it’s likely that such a deal would have to be expanded to suit the needs of both sides, and that’s something that Cincinnati would probably rather avoid.
In short, while waiting for the market to clear up, it’s possible that the Reds also scuttled their chances of getting the best deal for Phillips.
That’s something that the baseball world will never truly really know because the interest might not have been very strong to begin with. But would it have been different before the Tigers found their guy in Kinsler (while the Rangers subsequently hedged their bets on Jurickson Profar)? Before the Yankees got a backup in Kelly Johnson, prior to losing Cano to Seattle?
It’s at least a few potential suitors whose second based situation cleared up, even though it’s in varying degrees.
A Phillips trade is still possible for the Reds as Jocketty acknowledged, but it’s likely the case that they’ll now have more work cut out for them to get what they want, that’s all.