According to mlbtraderumors.com, Cincinnati appears posed to shop second baseman Brandon Phillips on the trade market. The Baltimore Orioles have a question mark at second base going into 2014; might Phillips be a potential fit? The answer of course is yes, there might be a potential fit. Phillips is a career .271 hitter with a fielding percentage of .988. The interesting thing however is that Cincinnati appears to be begging someone to take Phillips off their hands. The 32-year old second baseman still has four years remaining on a contract that’s paying him a six-figure salary each season. So could Phillips come at a discount since the Reds appear poised to trade him?
It’s entirely possible. The question of course is what would the Orioles have to give up to get Phillips? First off, if you believe this report from CBS Sports, Cincinnati might have to eat a large portion of his salary. Incidentally, that article also gives one every reason they would have not to trade for Phillips. And I’ll be honest; I’m not a big fan of a lot of the things that article said. It actually stated that Phillips was lucky to have as many RBI as he did. I don’t think that’s a fair sentiment to put out there when we’re talking about professional athletes. It might be fair to suggest that Phillips’ OBP (.320) and WAR aren’t where they could be, I think that anyone that’s ever seen him play knows he’s a good player.
From the Orioles’ perspective, the one thing that would concern me would be his attitude. Many people think that part of the reason why Phillips might be on the market is due to his attitude. As the aforementioned CBS article hints, Phillips made some comments back in June to the tune that the contract they gave Joey Votto was “a slap in the face” (to Phillips). All in all, Phillips can come across as a somewhat moody player. Quite frankly, the context of the slap in the face comment might have been correct (although it came out the wrong way). What he was really saying was that if they gave one guy all that money maybe they couldn’t spend it elsewhere. However I’ll certainly grant that the comments should not have been made. All a player needs to do is to play and worry about his own production as opposed to how much others are making.
Phillips also has been a catalyst for controversy in the past, most notably in 2010 when he bad-mouthed the St. Louis Cardinals which led to a massive brawl in a game. He’s expressed a non-chalance over time to what most people refer to as baseball’s “unwritten codes,” and that’s ignited a world of controversy over time.
However here’s the gist of my point; the Orioles should at least consider Phillips. First off with regard to what I just said above about unwritten codes, he’s been pretty quiet the past couple of years. At 32 years old myself, I can tell you that many of the things that I said for or even did years ago now make me cringe. While I can’t defend breaking the unwritten rules of the game, I would submit that Phillips has gotten much more serious in the past couple of years. That’s something that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Granted his slap in the face comment was definitely ill-advised, he hasn’t been the lightning rod for controversy that he was in the past.
Ultimately the Orioles need to decide what they’re going to do with Brian Roberts before they do anything else. While Phillips isn’t exactly the spring chicken, he’s a bit younger than Roberts and he doesn’t have the injury risks. It’s a tough call for sure. If the Orioles were to make a move for Phillips, I think they would have to gauge what Cincinnati wants in return. While a team like the Reds is going to think they can squeeze the Birds on the trade market due in part to the fact that they know the Orioles have a need at second base, the same can also be true in reverse. The Orioles know that Cincinnati wants to move him (perhaps desperately). Time will tell, but to say the least the Orioles at least should consider looking into trading for Brandon Phillips.