For the deal to happen, however, the Nationals would need to persuade Phillips to waive his full no-trade protection as a player with 10 years of major-league service, five consecutive with the same club.
Phillips, 34, is owed $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in ’17 in the final two years of a contract that he signed in April 2012. The market since has inflated, and it is standard for players who waive no-trade rights to receive an added benefit, generally through an extension or salary increase.
The Nationals should be in a flexible position financially — they recently offered free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward $200 million over an undisclosed number of years, sources said. Heyward signed an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs.
The Reds, who are actively trying to rebuild, likely would receive prospects for Phillips, sources said. Third baseman Todd Frazier, closer Aroldis Chapman and right fielder Jay Bruce are among the other veterans that the Reds are trying to move.
Phillips last season appeared in 148 games for the Reds, batting .294 with 12 homers, a .723 OPS and 23 stolen bases in 26 attempts. Baker was his manager with the Reds from 2008 to ’13.