MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nationals showing interest in Phillips, Murphy

Nationals showing interest in Phillips, Murphy

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are looking at options at second base, and a baseball source told MLB.com that the club has interest in Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and free agent Daniel Murphy. FOXSports.com was the first to report Washington's interest in Phillips. The Nationals have not confirmed the interest in Phillips or Murphy.

Phillips could improve the infield defense up the middle as well as drive in runs. Phillips has won four National League Gold Glove Awards and one Silver Slugger Award. If Phillips were to join the Nationals, he would be reunited with manager Dusty Baker. The two worked together in Cincinnati from 2008-13 and reached the postseason three times.

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Phillips, 34, also has the distinction of being selected by the Montreal Expos in the second round of the 1999 Draft. He was later traded to the Indians in 2002 in the blockbuster deal that brought Bartolo Colon to Montreal.

Phillips is under contract with the Reds for $27 million during the next two years. As a so-called "10 and 5" player, with 10 years of Major League service time including the past five with his current team, he has the right to block any trade. Phillips hit .294 with a .328 on-base percentage, a .395 slugging percentage, 12 homers, and 70 RBIs in 2015.

For the Nationals to get Phillips, the Reds want prospects they can control for a while, preferably position players.

As for Murphy, he was a solid hitter for the Mets the last seven years, sporting a .288 career average. As a left-handed hitter, he could help balance Washington's lineup.

Murphy was a big reason the Mets went far in the postseason in 2015. In the first two rounds of the postseason, Murphy went 16-for-38 (.421) with seven home runs and 11 RBIs. He hit a home run in six consecutive games, a postseason record. However, Murphy is considered a below-average defender. His defense at second base hurt the Mets in the World Series against the Royals. Murphy can also play first and third base.

It's not known what Murphy is looking for in a contract. He already rejected a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Mets. If the Nationals decide to sign Murphy, they would have to give up their first-round pick in the 2016 Draft.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.