Braves land Brandon Phillips in trade; Sean Rodriguez reportedly out 3-5 months
Days before they report for spring training, the Braves have added a whole new layer of intrigue to their second base situation, landing Brandon Philips from the Reds.
Phillips, a three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and Atlanta native, waived his no-trade clause clear the way for his return home in a deal that was finalized Sunday. The Braves sent the Reds left-handed pitcher Andrew McKirahan and righty Carlos Portuondo.
"We are excited to add Brandon Phillips to our club," Braves general manager John Coppolella said in a statement. "He is a Gold-Glove caliber defender who will also deepen our offensive lineup. We are thrilled to 'welcome home' Brandon to Atlanta, where he will play in front of his family and friends and many of his fans."
Per FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Braves' interest in the 35-year-old Phillips increased with utility infielder Sean Rodriguez -- who was expected to challenge incumbent Jace Peterson for time at second -- will undergo left shoulder surgery next week that will keep him out three to five months. He and his family were involved in a car accident last month that hospitalized the player's wife and children.
Phillips is due $14 million in the final year of his deal, with the Cincinnati said to be paying most of that figure and leaving Atlanta responsible for around $1 million.
A Stone Mountain, Ga., product tweeted about the deal Saturday night, saying "What a day lol! #BackInDaTrap #ATLien."
Phillips has invoked his no-trade clause in the past, vetoing moves to the Nationals and Diamondbacks in the last year, and another potential trade to the Braves in January. Atlanta released a second statement after the deal was announced concerning that provision, which the team will honor, but there has been no new agreed-upon no-trade wording put in place. In fact, Coppolella stressed that even Hall of Famers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, and future HOFer Chipper Jones did not have them baked into their contracts.
“Since John Schuerholz took over as GM in 1991, we have never granted no-trade provisions and we have no intention of changing that policy," Coppolella said.
"Brandon had a limited no-trade provision to 12 clubs of his choosing when he signed his extension with the Reds in 2012. Later in the contract he gained a full ‘no-trade’ through his 10/5 rights as a player. Teams are obligated to honor the contract of players they trade for. We will honor Brandon’s limited no-trade clause because we are bound to honor the contract provision just as we are bound to honor other contract terms whenever we trade for a player.
"If Brandon would happen to be traded from the Braves to another team, he would receive a $500,000 assignment bonus.
"It should be noted that we never included no-trade or limited-trade provisions for players such as Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, as well as future Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff and Andruw Jones, and we have no intention to include these provisions in the future."
A career .274/.320/.421 hitter, Phillips hit .291/.320/.416 with 34 doubles, a triple, 11 home runs and 64 RBI in 2016 for the Reds. He also swiped 14 bases in 22 tries.
Defensively, though, he took a step back with minus-7 defensive runs saved, his worst since 2006 and his UZR/150 of minus-2.3 was also Phillips' lowest figure in 10 seasons.
He could find himself in the same potential platoon situation Rodriguez would have entered with Peterson. Philips is a .284/.332/.455 hitter against right-handed pitching compared to Peterson's .242/.330/.349 against righties. But with the reality that Rodriguez could have taken away the primary job, that remains a distinct possibility for Phillips, who has played in an average of 147 games since 2006.
With the Braves discussing the likelihood of shortstop Dansby Swanson hitting second, Phillips would seem to slide into sixth in the order in a lineup that would go Ender Inciarte, Swanson, Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, Phillips, Adonis Garcia, Tyler Flowers and the pitcher's spot.
Of course, the Braves also have their second baseman of the future in waiting with Ozzie Albies, who is coming off an elbow injury but is said to be ready to go for spring training. But with no immediate need to get him to the major-league level, the addition of a veteran in Phillips would seem to give the Braves even more time to play with before Albies' ascension.
The Braves didn't have to eat into the depths of the majors' best farm system to acquire the All-Star. McKirahan missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and appeared in 27 games for Atlanta in '15 with a 5.93 ERA. Portuondo threw 34 2/3 innings across High-A and Triple-A last year with a combined 3.63 ERA. Cincinnati's intention in dealing Phillips was to clear an infield logjam with youngsters Jose Peraza (a former Braves farmhand) and Dilson Herrera.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, 'Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,' and 'The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.' are now available.