Hal McCoy: Trade of Brandon Phillips opportune move for Reds, Braves

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton Daily News Hall of Fame writer talks about the deal that sends the veteran second baseman to Atlanta.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The trade/giveaway of Brandon Phillips is nothing more than a move of convenience.

The Cincinnati Reds gift-wrapped Phillips on Sunday and UPS-ed him to the Atlanta Braves for a couple of low-level prospects.

It can’t be called a salary dump because the Reds agreed to pay $13 million of the $14 million Phillips will be paid this season. In other words, the Braves are being paid to take Phillips off the Reds’ roster.

It was mainly a move to make room in the lineup at second base for Jose Peraza, one of the players the Reds acquired last year in the Todd Frazier deal.

Phillips, realizing his playing time would be reduced this season, finally waived his no-trade clause after nixing three previous trade attempts by the Reds — one of them to the Braves.

And it is a trade of convenience for the Braves, too. They had signed Sean Rodriguez in the offseason to play second, but Rodriguez was involved in an auto accident last month and required shoulder surgery that knocks him out of action for four to five months.

Phillips, 35, is in the final year of his six-year $72.5 million contract and although he hit .291 last season, his once Gold Glove defense was tarnished last season. For the first time in his career, Phillips’ run-saving statistics and his range suffered a noticeable retreat. He made 14 errors, the first time since 2006 he reached double digits.

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During his 11 seasons with the Reds he won four Gold Gloves and was a three-time All-Star.

With the Reds in a rebuilding and reconstruction mode, Phillips is not part of the process. And Peraza is.

Peraza, 22, was up and down three times last season with the Reds and most of the time that he spent at Class AAA Louisville was to get him playing time because Phillips was still with the team.

PHOTOS: Brandon Phillips through the years

But when shortstop Zack Cozart went down with an injury, Peraza was recalled Aug. 21 to play shortstop. In 241 at bats last season, he hit .324 with a .352 on base average. He stole 21 bases, drove in 25 runs, scored 25 and hit three home runs.

Phillips joins Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce and Dan Straily as veterans the Reds have dumped in the last year and a half.

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And what did the Reds get in return, in addition to a $13 million obligation to a player performing for another team? They received a pair of pitchers, one 27 and one 29.

One is 27-year-old left-handed relief pitcher Andrew McKirahan, who has twice undergone Tommy John surgery, once in 2012 and again last year. He appeared in 27 games for the Braves in 2015 and posted a 5.93 earned run average, giving up 40 hits in 27 1/3 innings.

The other is 29-year-old Cuban right-hander Carlos Portuondo, who has yet to appear in a major league game. He spent all of last season in Class A and Class AAA after the Braves signed him out of Cuba before last season. He was 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA at Class A Carolina and Class AAA Gwinnett.

Phillips first rejected a trade last year to the Washington Nationals, where he would have had a reunion with former Reds manager Dusty Baker, a strange decision in that Baker and Phillips had a huge mutual respect and it would have placed Phillips on a strong contender.

Phillips also crushed a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and late last year turned down a previous deal with the Braves — also a strange decision in that Phillips is from nearby Stone Mountain, Ga., and owns a home there.

His time with the Reds was sometimes tumultuous. He had a name-calling incident with a Cincinnati sports writer. And in 2010 he called the St. Louis Cardinals, "little bitches." That induced an on-the-field brawl involving the two teams, ignited when Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Phillips had a shoving match at home plate.

Phillips also created controversy in a Cincinnati Magazine piece in which he expressed anger that the Reds signed Joey Votto to a huge contract before dealing with him on a contract.

Phillips, though, was a fan favorite with his flashy smile and his interaction with them, mainly on social media with his DatDudeBP twitter account.

His smile was flashy, but his defense was even flashier and his incredible out-of-the-ordinary plays were a staple on ESPN’s Top 10 plays. But he also was adept at adding unnecessary extra pizzazz to some plays and opponent and scouts said he had too much hot dog in him. When a writer asked Phillips about being a hot dog, he said, “Bring on the mustard.”

“We appreciate Brandon’s contributions to our organization,” Reds General Manager Dick Wiliams said. “He excited our fan base and was an important part of several seasons of winning Reds baseball. We wish him well with this next opportunity.”

Reds 2017: Key dates to remember this spring

Tuesday: Pitchers and catchers first workout

Friday: First full-squad workout

Feb. 24: Spring Training opener vs. Giants

April 1: Reds vs. Reds Futures team in Dayton

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