The trade that almost happened between the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds for Brandon Phillips is no more, with the Nats moving away from the deal that would have landed them the second baseman, as the Reds will try to find someone else to offload Phillips on, including his hefty salary over the next two years.
The Reds are in going out of business sale mode, which means full throttle rebuilding. Through that they’re dealing away anyone who isn’t very young and isn’t very cheap. Phillips falls dead center into that category, and after making him wave his no-trade clause, they thought they had a deal with the Nationals, which would also have meant taking away the $27 million he’s due to make over the next two seasons. Right now, he’s still on the books.
The Reds convinced Phillips to take the trade he initially didn’t want. Phillips had 14 years of major league baseball experience, which means he had the right to reject any trade he wanted (10 years in the league, five years with the same team). He signed a six-year deal in 2012 on what was then considered a hometown discount. He bought a house in Cincinnati and has been heavily involved in the community. He never saw himself playing anywhere else.
But this is pro sports. Loyalty might exist in small, hidden corners, but this is mainly a business which combines finances and the need to win. Right now, the Reds are about downsizing and cutting away expenditure they don’t need. They offered Phillips a nice enough compensation to take the deal, but the Nationals eventually bulked at the amount of minor leaguers the Reds were looking for, and have moved on to something else. The deal is not dead, but for now, Phillips isn’t going anywhere.
The 34-year old is a 3-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner. His defense remains consistent and mostly excellent, and he hit .294 last season, his best since 2011. His power has slowly declined (three straight years of sub .400 slugging) but he still gets on base like before and remains one of the team’s best players. The Reds, however, don’t want to pay him for that anymore.