Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips took advantage of his no-trade clause last winter to block a deal to the Nationals. If the Reds attempt to move Phillips again during the upcoming offseason, the 35-year-old isn’t sure which approach he’ll take.
“That one thing that’s not really on my mind. I’m just trying to finish the season strong and whatever happens, happens. I can’t really control what’s going on, what the Reds want or what I want,” Phillips told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. “All I know is I want to finish strong for this team. I’m still a Red. I’m happy. I still have another year on my contract and I’m happy with that. You never know what the future really holds. Just look at the present and enjoy it while you can.”
When the Nationals pursued Phillips, he had two years and $27MM remaining on his contract, but the three-time All-Star was only willing to approve a move to Washington if it came with an extension. Phillips’ refusal to relocate to the nation’s capital has worked out well for the Nats, whose fallback plan was to sign ex-Met Daniel Murphy in free agency. In the first year of a $36MM contract that runs through 2018, Murphy has enjoyed an elite-level season, having batted an astounding .347/.391/.596 with 25 home runs in 581 plate appearances for a playoff-bound club.
With his .290/.321/.418 line in 566 PAs, Phillips hasn’t been nearly as effective as Murphy this year, but the longest-tenured Red has totaled double-digit home runs and steals (11 apiece) for the ninth time. He has also slashed .336/.356/.486 in 223 second-half trips to the plate, which could lead to offseason interest from teams looking for a capable stopgap at the keystone. Of course, that might come down to whether Phillips would be open to playing out his deal for $13MM in 2017 without an extension from an acquiring club. It’s possible Phillips would sign off on a trade to a contender, as he told Sheldon that winning a World Series is among his main goals.
“The reason we all play this game is to win a championship,” he said.
Phillips certainly won’t be part of a World Series champion next year in Cincinnati, which is amid a rebuild. In the event the Reds trade Phillips over the winter and end their 11-year relationship with him, they have a pair of replacement candidates on hand in Dilson Herrera and Jose Peraza – both of whom are 22. Herrera hasn’t yet debuted with the Reds since they acquired him from the Mets for outfielder Jay Bruce at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, while Peraza has batted a solid .327/.349/.423 with 16 steals over 218 PAs this season.