Earlier this week, we heard Brandon Phillips say that it would "be hard" to keep him in Cincinnati, despite his desire to stay there. Phillips said in March that he doesn't want to break the bank with a C.C. Sabathia or Jayson Werth -style contract, but is looking for fair money.
Now, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that Phillips says nothing is going on with his extension talks: "It was bothering me earlier," said Phillips. "but now I'm just playing." In a separate tweet, Fay points out that the Reds could simply exercise Phillips' $12MM option, and it sounds like Phillips would be fine with that outcome: "That's a lot of money. I want that guarantee."
GM Walt Jocketty has indicated that the Reds will likely exercise the option, Fay writes in his blog: “He’s got an option. That’s what options are for. We might try to get something done later.”
Phillips turns 30 in ten days, and isn't experiencing his usual level of production, hitting .280/.338/.387 with just four stolen bases entering play today. These factors make it difficult to gauge his value.
Speculating here, but in Phillips' eyes, "fair" could be something along the lines of Dan Uggla's five-year $63MM contract with the Braves. After all, he's one year younger than Uggla was when he signed his deal, and unlike Uggla, Phillips is a well-reputed defender. While his typical power doesn't match Uggla's, it's still above-average for a second baseman and Phillips has significantly more speed to burn than Uggla.
Another comparable could be Brian Roberts, who signed a four-year $40MM contract with the Orioles at age 31 in 2009. Phillips has been equally as durable as Roberts was prior to his deal, averaging 151 games over his past five seasons compared to Roberts' 150. And, over the previous five years, he's hit .275/.326/.447 to Roberts' .291/.366/.435 in five years prior to his deal. According to UZR, Phillips is a historically better defender than Roberts as well.
If an extension can't be worked out, then the remainder of Phillips' 2011 season will dictate his paycheck in 2012 and beyond. If he continues to slug below .400, the Reds may buy out his option for $1MM and let him explore free agency. If he has a hot summer and regains his power stroke, I can see the Reds exercising his his option and worrying about his next contract over the winter or during the 2012 season.
As Tim Dierkes pointed out in the previously-linked post, Jocketty exercised Bronson Arroyo's $13MM option for 2011 before negating it in lieu of a three-year, $35MM extension this offseason.