The Brandon Phillips Trade Five Years Later

Today, Brandon Phillips may be the Reds’ most recognizable player. Five years ago? He was anything but. When then-GM Wayne Krivsky acquired Phillips from the Indians on this date in 2006, he was a 24-year-old unknown who had yet to convert his intriguing potential into Major League production.


He’d had his chances. In a season’s worth of plate appearances over the the course of four years in Cleveland, Phillips had just a .556 OPS. The minor league numbers which had once helped solidify his place among the game’s best prospects had fallen off; in his third season at Triple-A, Phillips’ average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all dropped.

But Krivsky decided to give Phillips a chance and the Indians, unable to find room on their roster for the out-of-options infielder, had had enough. Three and a half seasons after acquiring him in the Bartolo Colon trade, then-GM Mark Shapiro sent Phillips to Ohio’s other team for a player to be named later.

The Indians ultimately acquired reliever Jeff Stevens in the deal and would eventually send the right-hander to the Cubs in a trade for Mark DeRosa. The Indians later acquired current closer Chris Perez in exchange for DeRosa, so, in a roundabout way, they have something to show for Phillips.

It doesn’t compare to what the Reds got. In the five seasons since the trade, Phillips has hit .275/.326/.447, averaging 21 homers, 24 steals and 151 games per season, enough for 16.8 wins above replacement (42nd among MLB position players for that period). He has won two Gold Gloves (deservingly, according to UZR) and has a 30-30 season and two other 20-20 seasons to his name. 

Phillips, the longest-tenured position player on the Reds, outlasted Krivsky, who was fired in 2008. But the former GM deserves recognition for a deal that helped the Reds return to the top of the NL Central standings.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

21 Responses to The Brandon Phillips Trade Five Years Later Leave a Reply

  1. bjsguess 4 years ago

    The tale of two Brandon’s.

    Brandon Phillips’ first 4 seasons:
    135 games / 462 PAs / 6 HRs / 556 OPS / 19 BBs / 92Ks

    Brandon Wood’s first 4 seasons:
    167 games / 479 PA’s / 11 HRs / 458 OPS / 13 BBs / 145Ks

    Very similar players in the minors (highly touted). Both were shuffled back and forth to the big league club (although Wood’s situation was much worse in that he would move multiple times in a season back and forth between Salt Lake and Anaheim).

    This isn’t to say that Wood will ever turn out. However, there is hope. Every once in awhile it just takes these guys a little longer to figure it out. Phillips is a great player. Glad that people didn’t give up on him.

    • TheHotCorner 4 years ago

      Sure hope you are right and that Wood figures it out. I think part of his issue maybe has been the shuffling back and forth and playing several positions. Would be nice to see the Angels just say, hey we are going to put you out at position x and you are going to play every day and either figure it out or not. This way they know what they have in Wood.

      Sorry to hijack an article that really has nothing to do with Wood. I am going to blame bjsguess since he brought his name up.

      • bjsguess 4 years ago

        That has always been my major concern with Wood’s development IMO. Moving from SLC to Anaheim and then back to SLC has to take a toll. It’s a real catch 22 though as Wood has never played well enough to deserve an everyday spot.

        If the Angels aren’t going to give him his shot some other team needs to snag him. Stick him at SS, give him 600 AB’s and see what you have. For many teams, he wouldn’t be blocking anyone, they are already getting next to nothing from the SS, and I’m sure that he would come cheap.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          its why wood needs to go to a non contending team to be allowed to play everyday to see if he figures it out..

    • $1519287 4 years ago

      That’s a really interesting comparison.

      – BNS

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      So you’re saying the Jays should acquire Wood now before he turns things around?

  2. the deal he was in for Bartolo Colon was one of the biggest heists of the century….

  3. Votto may be the MVP but I still think Phillips deserves the C that hasn’t been awarded since Larkin. He’s out there all the time, having fun playing a game and really is the heart of the team. My favorite, current player.

    I was excited about the deal when we got him and still love it to this day. Baseball needs more guys like him, those who just love to play the game and are just big kids at heart. Sure there was the fight but honestly I think that just shows his passion and not that he’s a jerk.

    • I dunno if that’d be such a good idea. I love BP, but as a Reds fan I don’t want him speaking for the team. Not that a lot of what he says doesn’t have grains of truth to it, but regardless, they should go unsaid.

      If he could edit himself a bit, I’d be all for it, but right now it would send the wrong message

    • The “C” on a baseball jersey has got to be the most over rated, pretensious bit of styling and profiling BS by a ML organization since Alexander Cartwright first did his thing. Two examples: Jeter and Varitek – these “captains” appear to be great leaders when they are surrounded by great teammates….nothing more

      • tonyyanksfan 4 years ago

        One, Jeter doesn’t wear a C on his jersey. Two, if the collections of great players that always fill the Yankee and Boston rosters feel these two guys are great leaders and deserve to be named captains of their squads, what makes you think that you know better just from sitting on your couch watching SportsCenter highlights? You can rightfully argue with the quality of their performance on the field and that they are both overrated in many respects, but you can’t know whether they are good leaders when you’ve never been in the clubhouse.

      • stl_cards16 4 years ago

        A teams wins and losses have nothing to do with how good a captain is. Any team would be lucky to have Jeter or Varitek represent their franchise as the captain. They are both class athletes. Honestly, I don’t think you could have picked two worse examples of why being a captain is overrated.

        • Look at Joe Girardi in Chicago. He added next to nothing as a player, but was a class act and a great leader. I was at the game after Darryl Kile’s death and have had a ton of respect for Girardi ever since. On the other hand, Brandon Phillips is hands-down in the top tier of classless players today.

          • eyeglass1 4 years ago

            Top tier of classless players? Why, because he spoke the truth about the Cardinals rightfully being a team of cry babies? Sorry the Cards got beat in that fight last year then flipped over like a turtle. Thanks Cards.

    • Infield Fly 4 years ago

      All I can say is wow, can Phillips pick ’em! That hot shot he just pulled out of the air in yesterday’s game was a thing of beauty, and he’s done that (and more) so many times. That man has got a glove!!

  4. Eric Wedge is the genius who figured the Indians had no place for Phillips. He also who decided Jeremy Guthrie had no big-league potential. For the past five years, the Indians have struggled to find a second baseman and have been chronically short of starting pitching. It’s mind-boggling that Seattle would give Wedge another chance to manage.

    • Twinkilling61 4 years ago

      Don’t most clubs have a shortage of quality starting pitching?

  5. Eric Wedge is the genius who figured the Indians had no use for Phillips. He also concluded Jeremy Guthrie had no big league potential. Since then the Indians have been looking for a second baseman and starting pitching, and their infield defense was the worst in the AL last year. It’s mind boggling that Seattle gave Wedge another chance to manage.

  6. one_more_red_october 4 years ago

    I don’t know if there’s a better up the middle defense in the league over the Reds’ Janish-Phillips-Stubbs SS-2B-CF

  7. camisadelgolf 4 years ago

    Give kudos to Krivsky, but what happened is that a Reds scout saw Phillips in spring training for the Indians and noticed that Phillips was putting forth a lot more effort than usual. He was working out more, spending more time practicing, and became a lot more open to instruction. When the Indians DFAed him, the Reds were more than happy to offer a ptbnl for him because they were the first to realize what was holding BP back was finally gone.

  8. HorseshoeCasino 3 years ago

    Brandon Phillips was a head case in Cleveland for four years. He consistently sulked in the minors and failed to produce in the majors. Apparently his new start in Cincinnati made him realize he was getting his last chance and he finally woke up.

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