Despite rumors dying down from the beginning of the offseason, the Reds are still leaving the door open on trading second baseman Brandon Phillips, reports C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
General manager Walt Jocketty and CEO Bob Castellini sat down to take questions at a Reds fanfest on Saturday. Jocketty said they would not say any player was unavailable in a trade, but mentioned that it was possible the Yankees could call about Phillips before Castellini cut him off, saying "I don't care about the Yankees. Let's move on."
New York is now without a second baseman after Robinson Cano signed a $240 million deal with the Mariners. That could make Phillips a prime option for the Yankees. The team had been mentioned as a potential trade partner with the Reds earlier in the offseason, but did not appear willing to discuss a deal while Cano was still in play. The Reds say that Yankees officials leaked that the two sides were discussing Phillips in an effort to persuade Cano to sign earlier.
The Yankees do have an offer out to free agent Omar Infante and allegedly see him as the top option to take over second base in New York next season. If that falls through or if they see Phillips as a better fit, talks between the Reds and Yankees could escalate.
The Reds would be selling low on Phillips, 32, if they decide to move him. He is coming off his worst season since becoming the team's full-time second baseman in 2006. Over 151 games in 2013, he hit .261/.310/.396 with 18 home runs. He has lost a step, stealing just five bags last season after a career of swiping between 20-30 bags a season.
Phillips days as a premier slugger at second base are likely over, but he can still be a solid bat and is a very good defensive player. He is still owed $50 million over the next four years, likely the primary reason the Reds would look to move him. Furthermore, it has been suggested the team has been down on Phillips' attitude recently. He had reportedly been upset when the team refused to give him more money before signing first baseman Joey Votto to a monster deal.
If Jocketty and Castellini decide to move Phillips, top prospect Billy Hamilton is expected to take over at second base. For now, the Reds have had him working in the outfield with an eye toward playing him at center field next year.