While it is hard for the loyal fan to take, and social media reactions show just that, the Reds made the right decision to make a move with Brandon Phillips, trading him to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Andrew McKirahan and RHP Carlos Portuondo Sunday.
He was one of the best that the Reds have ever had at the position for a decade. Phillips is still a positive WAR player, who can still make contributions despite turning 36-years-old soon. However, the second baseman and fan favorite does nothing but hinder the Reds rebuild plan right now.
The Reds learned this, and even Phillips finally came around after his two-year battle with the fact. He finally waived his no trade clause following multiple refusals in deals the team would have certainly received more in return.
Outside of Joe Morgan, it is difficult to find a player in Reds history at the position who had a bigger impact. With the recent changes that show middle infielders giving more offense and power over the last couple of decades, Phillips supplied that for Cincinnati for his span with the organization. He did all of that, while winning a full trophy case of Gold Gloves and showing up on Web Gems on a nightly basis.
Another reason why the Reds fans flock to Phillips is because he was a success story who rose from the scrap heap. He was a former huge prospect with the Montreal Expos that was traded in a blockbuster deal to the Cleveland Indians with lofty expectations. He was never able to live up to those and was eventually dumped by the squad, and left there for the Reds to add in a no risk situation. Phillips rewarded that since 2006.
He was also a huge personality that showcased exactly what everyone desired. With this, Phillips was the franchise face for nearly a generation of Reds fans, hence the uproar.
However, on the field, the Reds need to develop younger players to get the rebuild in full motion. In fact, they needed to last year. Trading Phillips allows the team to play both/either Dilson Herrera or Jose Peraza at the same time. This change needed to happen at the most recent deadline, along with a move of fellow hold-on Zack Cozart.
This is not the first time that the Reds have moved recent staples of the franchise. Moving Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, and Jay Bruce stung…enter Homer Bailey comments…but none as much as Phillips due to his body of work on and off the field.
It also did not help that the Reds received two minor leaguers who can’t even have the word ‘prospect’ attached with. One is a 27-year-old former Rule 5 pick, who has seen two Tommy John surgeries. The other is a 29-year-old Cuban, who the Braves signed for $900,000 recently. Both appear to be just depth options.
Also, the Reds are paying all but $1 million of Phillips’ expiring monster contract. However, for anyone that thinks this move was about money or the return, they do not understand the concept of a rebuild.
The Reds were going to DFA Phillips eventually to clear the needed space. This way, the team receives at least some players back and pay $13 million, rather than $14 million. They were paying Phillips, regardless of how it happened. Trading him away to his home team is much more dignified and allows the team to give him a positive send off with a stand ovation next season and a nice video tribute.
Though it may not entirely feel like it, this was the best possible outcome for both the team and the player who did so much for the franchise. I know it stings now, but please remember the good times and realize that all of those good things do eventually come to a close. Late Saturday night into early Sunday just brought that final chapter.