Orioles get Brett Phillips after he was DFA’d.
On Tuesday evening, the Baltimore Orioles acquired outfielder Brett Phillips from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. The Rays designated him for assignment Monday afternoon following the three-team Trey Mancini trade. In a moment of poetic justice, Phillips is now going to the team who put those series of events in order.
Immediate reactions online from Orioles Twitter slammed the deal for multiple reasons, which I will go over, but I am actually a big fan of this move. Phillips is one of the very best people in baseball, and he is a lot of fun to watch.
Most famous for his playoff heroics, Phillips is a high-energy player and a best friend to everyone. He is not a cancer survivor like Mancini, but he has become close friends with an eight-year-old girl with cancer, and he hit a home run in her honor a few months back.
An elite defender and glue guy in the clubhouse, Phillips became a household name in 2020 when he walked off on the Los Angeles Dodgers during the World Series:
Brett is now inseparable from the airplane celebration, and people routinely mimic it when they pass him on the street. Also, his nickname is Maverick, so he might as well be the main character in Top Gun. The Orioles are getting a very fun player and person.
Phillips has long been a subpar hitter with amazing defense making him a useful player, but unfortunately his offense has fallen off the table this season. While 2021 was his best season with a .727 OPS, that figure has fallen to an unsightly .475. He is hitting .147 with only nine extra-base hits on the backs of a 40% strikeout rate. The Orioles’ coaching staff is surely hoping they can right the ship to some extent.
A speedy defensive outfielder seems redundant on the current roster because Ryan McKenna already occupies that role just fine. His OPS+ of 80 is pretty typical for a fourth outfielder, and way better than Phillips’ OPS+ of 40. Modern MLB teams tend to not keep fifth outfielders in the Majors.
The other thing bothering many fans is that claiming a veteran continues to block outfield prospects at AAA. Yusniel Diaz was called up yesterday, but Kyle Stowers is a better prospect and deserving of long look in Baltimore. Giving a roster spot to Phillips has renewed the angry claims that the front office is needlessly holding back prospects.
Those are both legitimate points, but I can’t help but be happy that such a great guy will be playing for the Orioles, especially since Mike Elias waved the white flag. Fans aren’t giving up on the playoff chase, but if Phillips continues to not hit, then missing out on October is really at stake.
The Orioles made a very-low risk move by adding a player who is easy to root for. I find it hard to complain about that.