Source: Phillips blocked trade from Reds to Braves
Second baseman invoked 10-and-5 rights to remain in Cincinnati
By Mark Sheldon
CINCINNATI -- The Reds have been trying to move Brandon Phillips and have found takers for their longtime second baseman in each of the past two offseasons. But Phillips has again invoked his no-trade privileges.
A source confirmed to MLB.com that Phillips blocked a potential trade from the Reds to the Braves in November, as first reported Thursday by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Reds general manager Dick Williams did not comment on the report. Braves GM John Coppolella responded to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
"We explore a myriad of trade opportunities, some which make more progress than others, and some which get more media attention than others," Coppolella said. "Trades aren't done until they are done."
It was the third time that Phillips has used his no-trade rights to block a deal. The Reds had trades in place last winter with the Nationals and D-backs but could not get his approval.
Phillips, 35, is due to make $14 million in 2017, the final year of his six-year, $72.5 million contract. The rebuilding Reds, who would have assumed some of the owed money in the deal with Atlanta, have been trying to clear their middle infield of Phillips and shortstop Zack Cozart to make way for young shortstop Jose Peraza and second baseman Dilson Herrera.
If the Reds are unable to trade Phillips and Cozart, they are prepared to go to Opening Day with both players and use Peraza in a utility role to get at least four starts per week. Herrera would likely begin 2017 in Triple-A. But it is likely that Phillips will see his playing time reduced at some point as Williams and manager Bryan Price would like to focus on players with a future beyond next season. Cozart, who is arbitration-eligible for the third and final year this winter, can be a free agent after the season.
According to Rosenthal, the Braves moved on to sign infielder Sean Rodriguez to a two-year, $11.5 million contract on Nov. 24 and are unlikely to revive talks with Cincinnati about Phillips.
The Reds' current longest-tenured player has full no-trade protection because of his status as a 10-and-5 player -- 10 years in the Majors, the past five with the same club.
Phillips batted .291/.320/.416 with 11 home runs and 64 RBIs while playing 141 games last season. He has become a fan favorite in Cincinnati, which perhaps was part of his motivation to turn down the Braves, despite being from nearby Stone Mountain, Ga.
During the Winter Meetings last month, Phillips sidestepped questions about whether he would accept a trade out of Cincinnati.
"Honestly I haven't really thought about anything," Phillips said on Dec. 5. "All I know is I'm the starting second baseman of the Cincinnati Reds, as of right now. I'm happy just to have a job. I'll just go from there. I don't really know what's going to happen. The only thing I know is I'm still in the Major Leagues. I'm playing baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. I love my city. I'm happy where I'm at. I can't really predict the future."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.