I’m only writing this post because I truly do love Brandon Phillips. He’s been a great Red, and a class-act to the fans. Although he ceremoniously and habitually avoids us on twitter like the bubonic plague, he’s still one of our favorite Reds that bridged the gap nicely from the Griffey/Dunn generation to the Votto/Bruce/Chapman era. Think about that, there aren’t a lot of Reds who have done that other than Bunny Arroyo and maybe Votto himself. And who knows how much longer he’ll be a Red.
Things are at a pivotal siege for Phillips and the Reds right now. Phillips has not been quiet, he wants extended. He’s seen the Reds move to get the core locked up and he wants to be part of it. But I would ask Brandon this: what is more important to him? Being part of this core, or making $12 million dollars annually even though he’s going to be over age 30 by the time he begins the contract?
“That’s what I want,’ he said. “I want to stay here. I love it here. Love the city of Cincinnati. I love the fans. The Reds gave me a second chance to come here and live my dream. I’ve been blessed. I want to give back to the city. I want to be the type of person Barry Larkin was to the city. It would be nice to be here for the rest of my career.”
I see Phillips as a guy who will age well. He’s a gamer and I refuse to short-change his value in the slightest. He’s the best defensive second baseman in baseball, I’ll argue that until the end. His offense is gravy, and he does have some pop and can steal a base if you need him to. He’s a versatile player and a guy I would miss very much as a member of the Reds if he isn’t in the long-term future. But if the Reds fall out of things this year I think Phillips will be one of the first guys the Reds make available. They’re going to be faced with some tough decisions. I would be surprised if Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips were both Reds two years from now.
That said, if Phillips will work on something with his agent that is fair and not necessarily as much as he could command on the open market, the Reds would be silly not to do something. I’m confident he’ll be a solid, flashy, and durable player at age 35.
If the Reds don’t retain Phillips until at least that time, I think that the window becomes a little more unclear. He’s been part of the core, and if he’ll stay at a fair price I think he’s earned the right to see this through. He always plays hard, and despite some bone-headed moments the guy always shows up in big moments (remember the lead off homer in NLDS game 2 last year?).
Brandon Phillips is a winner. We truly hope that the Reds don’t falter at all in their pursuit of NL Central excellence this season because we want him to remain a Red for as long as possible as well. And if you’re a Brandon Phillips fan, no game in April, May or June should be looked at as meaningless. It’s going to shape the future of the roster.