The Reds have been absolutely desperate for pitching (in particular young pitching) and to them, Brandon Phillips is expendable. They have a logjam in their middle infield and since BP is getting older and only has one year left on his contract, they’ve been shopping him around, especially to Atlanta.
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Initially, back in November, the Reds offered the Braves Brandon Phillips for Tyrell Jenkins. The Braves jumped on it, at which point BP blocked the trade via his no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player. The Reds then ended up landing Tyrell on waivers, only to let him go shortly after they realized why the Braves were willing to let Tyrell leave without hesitation.
After that, the Braves got Sean Rodriguez, which was an excellent move and served the same purpose. Actually a better purpose. While BP was a perfect 1-year stop gap before Ozzie Albies is ready, Sean-Rod could play multiple positions.
But, Sean-Rod’s recent injury gave the Braves no choice but to go back to the drawing board and land their Plan A – Brandon Phillips.
Bringing veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips to Atlanta for one year does not interfere with Ozzie Albies’ timeline. It probably does interfere with Jace Peterson’s job security. Albies is expected to be ready around the All-Star Break, at which point he will not jump right into SunTrust Park. Albies is still only 20-years-old. Look for the Braves to be patient with Ozzie’s MLB debut once he’s fully recovered from his injury. In the meantime, look for Brandon Phillips to serve Atlanta well.
Phillips isn’t young anymore. The Braves know this. Which is why they’re comfortable with having him for just one year and why they’re making the Reds pay most of his remaining contract. Brandon Phillips can still produce at the plate and is an immediate upgrade from Jace Peterson, just as Sean Rodriguez was.
Phillips slashed .335/.350/.478 after the All-Star break in 2016 and if that’s any indication to what the Braves just got – The Braves just got better. And w/RISP, Phillips hit .317 last year. (I’m using batter average to offend all you nerds. Is it working?) Couple that with Nick Markakis hitting .308 w/RISP last year, look for the Braves to be even more productive at the plate in 2017 than they were during the second half of 2016. As it sits now, the 2017 lineup might look something like this – Inciarte, Swanson, Freeman, Kemp, Markakis, Phillips, Garcia, Flowers, Pitcher. Laugh all you want about the 2017 Atlanta Braves, but that’s a much better lineup than most.