In an effort to be respectable during SunTrust Park's inaugural season in 2017, the Atlanta Braves added veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips from Cincinnati, the Reds announced Sunday.
You might remember that last month Phillips invoked his 10-and-5 no-trade protection to block a trade to the Braves. He has done that several times through the years, most notably blocking deals to the Nationals last offseason and the Yankees the offseason before that.
Phillips, now 35, grew up outside Atlanta, so it could be he had a change of heart and decided to approve a trade. He is owed $14 million in 2017, the final year on his contract. The Reds will pay $13 million of that with the Braves only responsible for $1 million, per Jon Heyman.
The return to the Reds is left-handed pitcher Andrew McKirahan and right-handed pitcher Carlos Portuondo. McKirahan, 27, missed last season after having Tommy John surgery. In 2015, he appeared in 27 games for the Braves, posting a 5.93 ERA and 1.83 WHIP. He has a 2.20 career ERA in the minors, but most of that is in the lower levels. Portuondo, 29, signed with the Braves from out of Cuba prior to the 2016 season. Between Class-A Advanced and Triple-A, he appeared in 17 games, pitching to a 3.63 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
Neither pitcher is considered a prospect and with the Reds assuming most of Phillips' salary, it's pretty clear this was just the Reds clearing a roster spot.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports indicated one of Atlanta's motives behind the trade is an injury to recently signed utility infielder Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez and his family were involved in a car accident last month and he will miss several months following shoulder surgery.
Source: Sean Rodriguez to undergo minor surgery on left shoulder next week due to car accident. One reason #Braves pursuing Phillips.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 12, 2017
Source corrects: Surgery for Sean Rodriguez is NOT minor. Expected to be out 3 to 5 months.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 12, 2017
The Reds are in the middle of a full-blown rebuild and have no use for a declining veteran infielder. The trade will give prospect Jose Peraza, who hit .324/.352/.411 (102 OPS+) with 21 steals in 72 games last season, a full-time position. Last year he played all over the infield as well as left field.
Phillips hit .291/.320/.416 (94 OPS+) with 11 home runs last season. He hasn't been league average offensively (100 OPS+) since 2011. His defense is slipping as well. The Braves aren't looking for a long-term second base solution, however. They just want Phillips to hold down the position as a stopgap until top prospect Ozzie Albies is ready.