An unfortunate injury reignited talks that finally landed Brandon Phillips in a new locale.
The Braves acquired Brandon Phillips from the Reds on Sunday in exchange for left-hander Andrew McKirahan and right-hander Carlos Portuondo. The Reds will also pay roughly $13 million of the $14 million owed to Phillips in 2017, the last year of his deal.
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The two sides had discussed Phillips in the past -- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal in January said Phillips vetoed a trade to the Braves in November, and there was more smoke last month -- but a shoulder injury sustained by Sean Rodriguez during a car crash a few weeks ago restarted those talks. Rodriguez is slated to be sidelined at least three to five months after he undergoes left shoulder surgery next week, and a source tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Rodriguez could actually miss the entire year.
Phillips is actually an upgrade, and one that cost very little for the Braves to make. Despite turning 35 during the 2016 season, Phillips still hit .291/.320/.416 with 11 homers and 14 steals while playing 141 games.
“(Phillips) is a Gold-Glove caliber defender who will also deepen our offensive lineup,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said of Phillips. “We are thrilled to welcome home Brandon to Atlanta, where he will play in front of his family and friends and many of his fans.”
ESPN's Buster Olney hears the Braves will likely bat Phillips sixth in the batting order.
For the Reds, the trade was all about creating opportunity for Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera. Phillips and his no-trade clause, along with his popularity among the fans, held the Reds hostage in a way, forcing him into the everyday lineup for a team with little to play for in 2016 and 2017.
"We appreciate Brandon's contributions to our organization," Reds general manager Dick Williams said in a statement released by the team. "He excited our fan base and was an important part of several seasons of winning Reds baseball. We wish him well with this next opportunity."
His absence will allow the club to give Peraza regular at-bats, who earned the opportunity after batting .324/.352/.411 with 21 steals in 72 games last year. Peraza also played 31 games at shortstop and another 21 in the outfield, so even if he doesn't make 150 starts at second base he should still approximate 600 at-bats from somewhere.
It could also be an opening for Herrera, who was the central return for the Reds from the Mets in the Jay Bruce trade last summer. The second baseman was blocked in New York by Neil Walker and in Cincinnati by Phillips, but he's major-league ready and could grab the starting spot at some point, pushing Peraza to shortstop or the outfield.
Neither McKirahan nor Portuondo is considered much of a prospect.
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