The Cincinnati Reds wouldn’t be in this mess if Walt Jocketty had been looking to the future as the general manager.
The Cincinnati Reds had a great asset in Brandon Phillips with his contract extended, but let it rot on the vine. Let’s peel back the onion of the Brandon Phillips contract extension and see what value it really had. Brandon Phillips signed his extension one week to the day after Joey Votto received his current deal.
Phillips’ deal was signed a week into the 2012 season. His best defensive season was 2008, but his best overall season was 2012. As the cost of free agents went up, Phillips became a very affordable elite defensive second baseman with some good pop.
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The Reds won the National League Central in 2010 and 2012 before taking a 7 game back step in 2013. They barely made it to the wild card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s where the Reds were in the 2013-14 MLB off-season.
Following the 2013 season the Reds let manager Dusty Baker and veteran starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo go. At that time the Reds needed to get younger before they got old. The Reds owed Phillips $11-million and were in negotiations with Homer Bailey to sign a long term contract.
The Cincinnati Reds should have traded Brandon Phillips when he had a high value instead of now.
The 2013-14 off-season is when Robinson Cano signed with the Seattle Mariners for $24-million per year. At the time Cano played better offensively, but was a lesser defensive player to Phillips. Which contender wouldn’t have traded for a slight downgrade to the best free agent in the market, if they could pay him less than half?
That is the mark of the Jocketty era. The only way to stay competitive is to jettison players when their market value exceeds their value to the team. This season Votto or Raisel Iglesias may fall into the same bucket of being worth more in a trade than on the team.
Jocketty’s refusal to move Phillips before he began his 10-and-5 season has hamstrung the Reds both financially and with regards to their roster breakdown. At that time several teams wanted to add Phillips to their rosters. Instead Jocketty allowed Phillips to age in place and gain complete veto power.
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Beyond the baseball vantage point, Phillips had been a malcontent from the moment that he signed his extension. A year after he signed the second largest deal in Reds’ history, he called it a slap in the face. How Dick Williams handles Jocketty’s left over mess could determine his legacy as Reds’ GM.