Brandon Phillips Trade Talk: 10 MLB Teams Who Should Offer Big Package for Him
If the team doesn't contend as expected, at least 10 other clubs should be pestering general manager Walt Jocketty by midseason about potential deals.
Contract extension negotiations between Phillips and the Reds' front office are coming along slowly. The two-time All-Star will enter free agency after the season if they can't arrive at a multi-year agreement.
Instead of waiting for him to commit to Cincinnati or reach the open market, the following teams must spare no expense in their attempts to trade for this elite player.
The Detroit Tigers would go after Brandon Phillips as a rental for the rest of 2012.
They have oodles of cash already committed to Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Justin Verlander. It's hard to see them taking on another eight-figure salary.
Still, it would be wise to have him on the payroll for the stretch run and postseason.
The Tigers aspire to win the World Series and Phillips would bolster their lethal lineup and sure up second base. They have struggled to fill the position since Placido Polanco departed after the 2009 season.
Their package could include Jhonny Peralta, a shortstop in his prime who has a $6 million team option for 2013.
Kansas City Royals
There isn't a single move that could make the Kansas City Royals 2012 favorites in the American League Central. Brandon Phillips, though, would get them competitive for the first time in decades.
The Royals are close to contention as it is with a young, deep batting order and a starting rotation that's bound to improve. Aaron Crow is transitioning from the bullpen and Danny Duffy will move past his mediocre rookie campaign.
Kansas City would be an ideal trade partner for the Cincinnati Reds.
They could offer an MLB-ready second baseman in Johnny Giavotella and Joakim Soria as a long-term closer.
However, this move would be wasted if the Royals weren't sure that they could lock up Phillips beyond this season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles makes a lot of sense for Brandon Phillips—it's a metropolis well-suited for his extrovert personality.
Tradable pieces on the Dodgers' roster include Mark Ellis, an older but cheaper alternative to Phillips, and left fielder Jerry Sands. Both would fill needs for the Cincinnati Reds.
Moreover, the Blue Crew might be asked to part with a stellar reliever like Javy Guerra or Kenley Jansen. They shouldn't allow either to be a deal-breaker.
General manager Ned Colletti should draw the line at shortstop Dee Gordon, but keep everyone less valuable in play.
Once the L.A. ownership situation is settled, there will be ample funds available to extend Phillips through his remaining productive years.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays did not spend as freely as expected this offseason. Although linked to both Yu Darvish and Ryan Madson, both players ended up elsewhere.
The money for a Brandon Phillips multi-year extension is still somewhere deep in their pockets.
They can't allow another one of their targets to escape on the open market.
Travis Snider and Rajai Davis are expendable members of Toronto's overpopulated outfield. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds are aware of that. They would be more likely to request Eric Thames.
Pitching prospect Drew Hutchinson must be made available, too.
New York Mets
Any Brandon Phillips trade is only possible under the assumption that the Cincinnati Reds will underachieve in 2012. Similarly, the New York Mets aren't good trade partners unless Jason Bay returns to form.
He has been a total disappointment through two seasons and the remainder of his contract looks tough to swallow. A $17 million option for 2014 vests with good health in 2012 and 2013.
But perhaps Citi Field's new dimensions will allow Bay to rediscover his 30-homer power.
Anything he accomplishes in New York translates to even better results in the Cincinnati bandbox of Great American Ballpark.
Including infielder Daniel Murphy in a deal could convince the Reds to take on Bay's significant salary. Murphy's bat and cheap expense make him usable at second base to replace Phillips.
The Mets should also consider tacking on a third team-controlled player from their 40-man roster.
The Miami Marlins' commitment to winning is no longer in question.
They acquired Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Carlos Zambrano this winter and made a run at Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes.
If 2012 revenue is as outstanding as expected, they will be able to afford Brandon Phillips, too.
Omar Infante ought to have a role on the team, but not as the everyday second baseman. Especially not when the Marlins have the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals to fend off.
A package of Emilio Bonifacio and outfield prospect Christian Yelich sounds reasonable, but Miami can't back down if asked to further sweeten the deal.
San Francisco Giants
Matt Cain and Brandon Phillips were both worth roughly four wins above replacement in 2011. This is relevant because the San Francisco Giants would have to choose to commit to one over the other in the event a trade is consummated.
The former is several years younger, a starting pitcher and in position to demand a far more lucrative deal than Phillips would seek.
Choosing the equally valuable Phillips would be even less of a financial burden on a franchise that's pushing against its spending limit.
The rotation will stay strong with Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum.
The offense, on the other hand, needs an experienced bat.
San Francisco should offer a package built around Brandon Belt.
The Colorado Rockies pitching staff has been downgraded to suspect since the front office dealt Ubaldo Jimenez and Huston Street, and gave up on Aaron Cook.
Luckily, offense and fielding can win a lot of games at the high altitude of Coors Field.
Brandon Phillips would fit in well with Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki near the top of that lineup.
Eric Young is the sort of explosive second baseman/left fielder that the Cincinnati Reds are looking for in return.
Brandon Phillips could wind up with the Cleveland Indians where his MLB career began in 2002.
The franchise rarely competes for pricey, accomplished players, but their current high-earner, designated hitter Travis Hafner, will come off the books after the season.
The Indians would boast a great middle infield with Phillips alongside shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
He would also be an important addition to a batting order of inconsistent and oft-injured individuals.
High-ceiling infielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis might be Walt Jocketty's choices as future starters in place of Scott Rolen and Phillips, respectively.
That would be nothing for Cleveland to complain about.
Tampa Bay Rays
This article began with a rental scenario and it's going to end with one.
The Tampa Bay Rays won't be able to sign Brandon Phillips to a competitive extension beyond 2012.
Which Rays would the Cincinnati Reds be interested in acquiring?
An intriguing name in these negotiations—if they were to take place—would be Ben Zobrist.
He can be retained at a team-friendly price through 2015 and he has defensive versatility beyond second base.
Another package that would be even more economical could feature starting pitcher Alex Cobb and highly-touted prospect Hak-Ju Lee.
If the Rays are truly hungry to return to the World Series, they will face a tough midseason decision.