Sep 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) makes a throw on a ball up the middle in front of shortstop Zack Cozart (rear) against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsEarlier this week, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that the Cincinnati Reds will be shopping All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips this winter and have every intention to trade him. In other words, let the vultures descend.
One such vulture, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, linked the Toronto Blue Jays to the outspoken second baseman (an obvious stretch, I know), even going as far as to imagine a double-play duo of Jose Reyes Reyes and Phillips in the middle of the diamond for Toronto. However, is he a good match for the Blue Jays?
I’m not so sure.
As Cafardo accurately surmises, the Blue Jays have an obvious need to upgrade at second base, and Phillips is one of those guys that would give Toronto the upgrade it would love to have. After all, we are talking about a player that has three gold gloves at the keystone position, and throws in a career slash of .271/.320/.429. Yup, quality defense and a bat to boot. Sound like a match, right?
Well, there are also some detractions to this so-called match:
1.) Phillips would be under team control for four seasons, but at a price tag of $50 million. With Toronto’s needs in the rotation (which Cafardo also notes as two quality pitchers) and possibly at catcher, Phillip’s existing price tag doesn’t make sense for the Blue Jays, unless Cincinnati picks up a healthy portion.
2.) For the Reds to pick up that portion, the prospect package going back in return would need to be significant, especially with Phillips being a viable alternative to the runners-up in the Robinson Cano sweepstakes. That would likely mean Toronto would need to part with at least one of Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, or Marcus Stroman and a top shortstop prospect, either Dawel Lugo or Franklin Barreto (if either would satisfy Cincy’s need at the position). That’s a heavy cost to pay, and may only be the tip of the iceberg. Again, if Toronto is going to commit a package with one of three top pitching prospects in the system headlining it, it is to get a top of the rotation starter back.
3.) Phillips will turn 33-years-old midway through 2014 and will be 36 by the completion of his contract. He’s been fairly durable during his eight seasons in Cincinnati, but that $14 million will look a lot heavier to carry during the age 36 year and could be seen as an albatross in a few seasons. That’s especially true if his bat continues to slip.
4.) For all the talk Blue Jays fans have about attitude and chemistry with a guy like Jose Bautista, they are not nearly prepared for the circus that is Brandon Phillips. The main reason he is being made available this winter is due to a public rant about not being paid enough in the wake of the huge Joey Votto deal, which was signed just days after his own extension. He called CEO Bob Castellini a liar, citing a new vegetable for adding money to the Reds coffers for Votto. Do the Blue Jays really need that kind of chemistry added to the mix?
Phillips may be a great talent, and could be a solid producer for the Toronto Blue Jays, but the cost ultimately seems to heavy to make any sense for this team. He would be another older cog added to an aging team that doesn’t need any further distractions. The team would be better off using their financial and minor league resources in other areas on the team than to pursue Brandon Phillips at this stage in his career. Even Cuban free agent Alexander Guerrero would make more sense to Toronto, and would come with a smaller price tag.
How do you feel? Should Toronto pursue a trade for Phillips or should they simply pass on this mess?