Washington Nationals Trade Target: Brandon Phillips


It is being reported that the Nats are in discussions with the Reds to trade for second baseman Brandon Phillips.

The Washington Nationals are looking for another second baseman and they might re-unite manager Dusty Baker with the second baseman that he managed in Cincinnati. Last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network reported that the Nationals have discussed a trade with the Cincinnati Reds that would send Brandon Phillips to the nation’s capital. However, it would be up to Phillips to decide if this trade goes through:

"“For the deal to happen, however, the Nationals would need to persuade Phillips to waive his full no-trade protection as a player with 10 years of major-league service, five consecutive with the same club.”"

In 148 games this past season, Phillips had a slash line of .294/.328/.395 with 12 home runs, 70 RBI’s, and 23 stolen bases. Even at 34 years old, Phillips was eighth in the National League in stolen bases with 23.

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The second baseman does have ties with the Nats, but before the Expos moved to Washington DC. Phillips was selected by Montreal in the second round of the 1999 MLB Draft. He would play three seasons in the Expos’ farm system before being dealt to the Cleveland Indias along with Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

Four years later, Phillips was dealt to the Reds for minor league pitcher, Jeff Stevens. Phillips played under Baker in Cincinnati from 2008-2013. Over that time, he won four gold gloves, made two All-Star Games, and won a Silver Slugger award in 2011. In 2013, Phillips was fourth in the NL with a career-high 103 RBI’s.

With the Reds in full rebuild mode, they will look to get back more prospects to replenish their farm system. Phillips has two more years left on his contract worth $27 million. He will make $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in 2017. Even though Phillips is right-handed and the Nats have been looking to add another left-handed bat, he still provides an upgrade at second base, which was what Rosenthal reported that the team was looking for on Monday:

This past season, Phillips ranked in the top five among National League second baseman in batting average (third), sixth in home runs, third in RBI’s, tied for second in stolen bases, and fourth in on-base percentage. His WAR of 3.5 was his highest in his career (4.0) and second among second baseman in the NL (Dee Gordon was first – 4.9).

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As far as his defense goes, he had five runs saved this past season. According to Fangraphs, he was tied for eighth among second baseman in baseball and tied for fourth in the NL. However, Danny Espinosa was second in that category with 10 runs saved. But, with Escobar gone, it seems as though the Nats would start Espinosa at shortstop and start Trea Turner in the minors, should this trade happen.

If this trade does happen, I think it’s a good deal for the Nats. It wouldn’t cost as much as making a deal for Todd Frazier in terms of prospects. It would allow the organization to keep Anthony Rendon at third base and he has stayed healthy most of his career when you consider he has played 140+ games in nine of his last ten seasons. In his career at Nats Park, Phillips has hit .260 with no home runs and ten RBI’s in 23 games.