Brandon Phillips was one of the many veterans unable to find a landing spot in free agency this winter, but the longtime Reds second baseman tells MLB.com’s Jon Morosi that he’s still holding out hope for a return to the big leagues (Twitter links). The 36-year-old Phillips notes that he’s open to platoon or bench roles, adding that he’s also amenable to bouncing around the infield and playing some outfield as well.
Certainly, Phillips isn’t the All-Star-caliber player that he once was. While he batted .280/.330/.449 with above-average power and baserunning in addition to superlative defensive contributions from 2007-12, his overall output has diminished in recent years. Nonetheless, Phillips still posted a quite respectable .285/.319/.416 slash in 604 plate appearances between the Braves and Angels last season, delivering 13 homers and 11 steals. His defensive ratings did dip in 2016-17, with both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved providing a negative valuation of his glovework. He’s also been inefficient on the bases, as evidenced by a 25-for-41 success rate (61 percent) in stolen-base attempts over the past two seasons.
While it’s unlikely that a club would add Phillips and plug him into a regular role in the near term, there’s still some potential value to be had. Phillips is perennially one of the toughest strikeouts in the league, even in recent years (11.5 percent from 2015-17), and has batted .290 over the past three seasons. That average hasn’t been artificially inflated with luck (.312 BABIP) and has helped him to get on base at a roughly league-average clip in that time (.322), even though he rarely walks. He’s also maintained a quality line-drive rate, including a 22.2 percent mark in 2017.
On the other hand, Phillips has walked in fewer than four percent of his plate appearances in that three-year run, and his power has dropped from the aforementioned 2007-12 peak. While it’s true that he still hits an above-average share of line drives, his overall hard-contact rate is below the league average, and he didn’t rate well in Statcast metrics such as exit velocity and barreled-ball rate. In fact, at a time when the general thought process throughout the league seemed to be to hit the ball in the air and focus more on launch angle, Phillips posted a career-low 28.3 percent fly-ball rate — one of the lowest marks of any qualified hitter (130th out of 144, to be exact).
All that said, Phillips was worth about a win in 2017 per Baseball Reference’s version of WAR, while Fangraphs was a bit more bullish at 1.6 WAR. In all, he’s a career .275/.320/.421 hitter in nearly 8,000 big league plate appearances. Morosi notes that Phillips has been working out at Georgia Tech while hoping for an opportunity, though it stands to reason that he’d likely need some minor league or extended spring games to ready himself for another run in the Majors.
If Philips could play 3rd base half decently (if Beckham got hurt), I would love to have him on the O’s
Agreed, Phillips would be a good replacement if Schoop, Beckham or Machado get hurt. Plus, I would also love him on the O’s too.
Yeah he’d fit right into our lineup… Free Swinger with zero chance of taking a walk.
I think he would be a good add for the Rockies. The lack of playing SS would be mitigated by the Rockies being able to play Valaika or even Desmond there. I think Phillips is a better use of a roster spot over a 5th outfielder like Mike Tauchman, at least for this year.
He would not fit in Colorado, they have Pat Valaika who is a good defender and solid bat. Pretty similar player but Valika is way younger
But there is something to say about the experience and knowledge Phillips has. That could be very valuable for a bench player.
Honestly this makes me so mad. Phillips is a proven veteran that is still a good ball player. Respectable? 285 is a good solid average and he hit 13 hr while driving in at least 60 ribs with 11 Sb and his experience and leadership, I’m sorry but not only should he have a job he should have a starting job and he should’ve been able to sign it earlier in the offseason, same to a ton of other guys. Such as Adam lind(released by Yankees after minor league deal!), Jose Bautista… I know these guys are getting old but still have uses. Lind hit 330 and he’s just done? Unbelievable.
I highly doubt it. You’re using two of the worst offensive barometers to judge a player. Especially one essentially playing in GAB and the newer launching pad in suntrust. He’s been a below average defender the last two years and he’s been essentially a below average offensive player since 2012. He’s an interesting vet, but putting to much stock in his superficial stats explains why he’s on the market. In a deep 2b market with a non impact bat he’s not a starter anywhere.
yeah this pretty much, in sun trust he was .320, out side under .260. some difference between home/away isn’t all that unusual but that is a pretty huge difference.
Still though anyone needing infield help certainly should take a look.
Poor D, poor baserunning, scraping average offense..pass.
Many have bought into this notion that walks give a player value. Brandon Phillips would provide a nice stick off the bench (perhaps facing lefties, .285 career hitter). Phillips has also been a premiere defender at 2B. Walks do not matter when runners need to advance or score from third. That is one of many reasons why some great Oakland teams lost in the ALDS several times.
However, versatility and declining foot speed aren’t helping Phillips. The league has also stated by the way they conducted their offseason that they want to go with youth and the players they’ve developed in their system.
I agree. Some of the guys still out there unsigned are very deserving of an MLB deal. Phillips and Lind for sure in platoon roles for any team might be pretty good. Even Reynolds, Melky, and Seth Smith could be signed. I think some of the free agent pitchers like Huston Street could get a MiLB deal and have the potential to bounce back. Just a head-scratching free agency we’ve been through, and I feel for some of the players.
Agree with both above comments. To an extent. I think what we’re seeing is proven veterans being forced to prove themselves relevant before being granted the starting job. As opposed to conventional wisdom their track record won them the job, then their age and decline lost the job. We are seeing a shift in evaluation of players and their contracts
Teams are smarter not grabbing up all the free agents. Asking prices just stalled with the buyers in charge. Good!
This just feels like a Kenny Williams guy…
Thankfully Hahn will not allow KW to have a phone at his desk
Lind is puzzling to me. I had thought Phillips wasn’t interested in playing this year, but he is certainly still useful. The defense plays at second and third and he’s always been durable. These are both odd situations. Both of those guys have value still.
Both are victims of MLBs current state of affairs. Both players would probably be on major league rosters now were there not a glut of similar talent on the market at their positions. You also have teams dedicated to staying below the luxury tax threshold which essentially prevents them from adding any players for more than league minimum (if that). Phillips and Lind’s shortcomings would have been discounted or dismissed in other eras, but the ways most franchises operate now results in more and more effective veterans to fall by the wayside.
This would be a good option for the brewers
Yea some solid veteran options still out there. But they didn’t read the market right at the time teams were making decisions. They overvalued themselves. Teams went with much cheaper options while sacrificing experience. Bautista cracks me up. Here is a guy who thought it was beneath himself to negotiate two years ago and now doesn’t have a job. I wonder how many calls he even got this winter? Or were teams just unwilling to even deal with what might be his demands?
A key injury and he signs. Hoping it never happens but suppose for example both Pedroia and Hernandez have major setbacks, can you not see him in Boston?Red Sox can do worse than sign him to a minor league deal with a 06/15 decision date. If Pedie proves he’s healthy, they release Phillips, etc. In addition, both Holt and Nunez have looked good but are also coming off major injuries. The cost of signing Phillips seems minimal.
Not as a starter anywhere that is the whole point imo, he can spell starters at essentially every position (except C and prob CF, SS) but why not bring in a vet with plenty of juice left. Not saying he should start anywhere.
But he can’t and that’s the problem. Can he at 2nd? Yes. If you buy his defense at 3rd sure, but anywhere else you’re beyond pushing it. His arms not good enough to even think about 3rd and off you can clearly envision someone better at in LF and 1st. So if you believe in him at 2nd/3rd take your shot. But again the issue remains the depth in that position and the actual need there. It’s not particularly overwhelming.
I wouldn’t hate seeing the Twins grab him as a utility INF. At least until Polanco is back.
Phillips not having a job really puzzles me, and I figured Lind would at least get a look as a bench bat/back-up 1bman somewhere..
Phillips is an excellent guy for a team’s clubhouse, and he can play 2B and 3B..I honestly thought the Braves might give him another shot, but they brought in Flaherty. Which, to the Braves credit, Flaherty is having an awesome start to the season, both offensively and defensively…
I don’t expect Street, Lind, nor Phillips to be on the market very long. There will be contending teams that suffer through some injuries, and these are just the guys to fill in those spots for some contender around the league..Well, at least, I certainly hope that’s the case, because all three certainly still have the skills left to produce and contribute at the ML level..
There were some rumblings that Phillips didn’t particularly like playing thirdbase despite the fact that he didn’t publicly complain about it. If I recall correctly he didn’t make any public comments about playing third at all and would “no comment” when asked specifically. I would think that the PERCEPTION that Phillips only wanted to play second hurt him at the start of the off season. Now despite a new found, and stated, desire to play anywhere, the jobs are all taken.
Can he better than anyone in the Tribe’s current infield? If so, sign him now. They need someone, anyone who can hit.
Reds should re-sign him to replace Pennington or Gosselin (probably Gosselin) as a backup IF.
you’ve got to be kidding. From an ability standpoint, sure he’s just as good, but there isn’t one person in the clubhouse or front office who wants to see his face around GABP again. Same goes for countless fans (this one emphatically included).. I guess word hasn’t really gotten around about how negative a presence he is, based on all of the comments so far. I’m honestly surprised any teams took a flyer on him laat year, and hardly surprised he can’t find any takers now. He’s the kind of washed up vet numbskull GM’s (Kenny Williams mentioned above) pick up
I’m sure the vast majority of the Reds fan base would love to have Phillips back. He was beloved by the fan base here, and he did a ton for the community. I don’t know what his presence in the clubhouse is like, but at least from a fan’s perspective, I think it would be a great move. His ability is obviously far superior to Gosselin, and I just don’t see him as a negative presence, unless he’s really that bad from a clubhouse perspective
I’m not sure if it’s a stated organizational philosophy or just a long trend, but the Reds have never been a franchise prone to bringing back former players. Just a year removed from their second consecutive WS victory in ‘76, Dick Wagner began trading key players from the Big Red Machine – Perez, Morgan, Foster, Geronimo, Griffey (FA), Rose, etc., and the only player in that era who they brought back was Rose (player/manager). CIN isn’t a perfect organization, but they’ve consistently moved on from players for better or worse. I’d say there’s about zero chance Dick Williams would even entertain the thought of bringing Phillips back. He’s not the future, and it’s a major stretch for the Reds or anyone else to see him as a useful part of the present.
I’m failing to understand how eating the cost of Gosselin AND signing Phillips, essentially doubling his market rate assuming he gets a similar $2MM, makes any sense. He’d be a marginal upgrade to a barely used bench role, even if there is no further age-related regression for the 37 year old. For a team that’s not prepared to win in 2018, sticking Phillips on the bench is nothing more than a waste of money. If the Reds hadn’t already committed money to Gosselin, it’s a conversation to be had, but at this point, there’s not a chance in hell.
Add the fact that there are multiple MLB-ready middle infielders on the 40-man that will be a part of this team post-2018. No front office is going to prioritize one year of a player on his last legs for a bench spot on a non-contending team when there are in-house options on the cusp of major league action.
I understand wanting to develop youth in most aspects as you pay them less and of course you get them experience in the hope it pays off later. What I don’t get is why not add a guy like Phillips to spell regulars, as young prospects should be seeing daily at bats in the minors anyways…for example plenty teams have been listed above as good fits but I feel like Minnesota would be ideal. With Polanco suspended they are a little thin in depth. Why not bring in a wise veteran who can still produce not to mention a guy who brings a professional approach to EVERY single at bat. The guy brings the energy of a 25 year old!
I agree with @bravesfan
Not to mention the guy is a 4x gold Glover who could almost certainly play 1B, LF, RF…it just doesn’t make sense this guy is still out there to me.
You’re talking about a player who’s bat has been below league average for quite a long period of time. He’s a short platoon guy who does not play a premier position. That in and of itself is why he is still on the market. The ones he does play are among the deepest in the league and he does play them below average. He doesn’t have the arm to play RF nor the bat to play LF/1st. If he could play a passable SS that might be a different story. But to say he was a 4 time gg at 2nd in launching pad mehhh. I don’t see many fits at all. The sad thing is he’s been a declining player, that doesn’t fit the new dynamics of a roster.
He still has good defense and he is a veteran guy who is going to hit for average and get on base at league average.
Maybe? He hasn’t gotten on base at about league average since 15 and he’s been a below average hitter since 12. He can pick it to an extent, but again put all of together and without the ability to play SS and being a short side platoon guy how much value does he really have. How much need is there really at 2nd/3rd. I like the guy as a player and he’s been fun to watch during his career, but it’s with teams tanking and competing teams it seems like a perfect storm.
He’d be a studs for the cats
Has anyone heard anything about Melky Cabrera possibly signing somewhere?
maybe he can get someone to make a website promoting him.
I think people still remember that incident a few years ago when he started a fight against Yadi in Cincinnati. It would have been the last time they would have had a chance at winning. They were actually competitive that year but Phillips had to agitate Yadi and the Cardinals. It inspired the Cardinals on to yet another Division Championship ( by the way the most this Century by any team in the Central) Maybe he should have just kept his mouth shut and played hard instead of starting something he couldn’t finish.
Maybe cardinal fans should move on from something that happened 8 years ago.
You are a moron. The Reds won the division that year.
Amazing how different this year’s trade market is. Last year and every year before if Phillips said what he said this year, expressed simply, that he would pretty much take any major league job, teams would be lining up, especially for what he would be signed for this year. That’s because finding major league players that were league average that at least wouldn’t HURT your club in any particular category was worth something.
Surprised the giants aren’t all over this. Isn’t that their game plan? Going after old former all stars? . I would have liked to see the braves swipe him up this offseason and even as a bench spot sounds good. But I am willing to bet he’s asking for far to much money for such a role
He needs to come back to cinci and take over for peraza who is Garbage!
The Reds saw upside in Peraza that nobody else did when they acquired him a couple years ago. I watch him play, and I just don’t see the potential. Have to wonder at what point CIN realizes they’ve bet on a dog and move on.
I’ll take him over Jonathan Villar any day
Y’all don’t know hahah