I understand that a large percentage of fans who already will disagree with me by the end of this sentence. But, it became abundantly clear last year that the A’s really do need to upgrade their lineup at the second base position. The addition of Brandon Phillips would provide a significant upgrade over Eric Sogard and Alberto Callaspo, or whoever would split time at second. Of course, Phillips isn’t without his drawbacks.
Aug 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) singles during the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
He is coming off what can only be described as an “odd” season statistically. His slash line isn’t all that great at .261/.310/.396 over 666 plate appearances, but he hit 18 home runs (as he has in each of the last 4 seasons) and tallied 103 RBI. Runs batted in aren’t the most reliable measure of a player’s success, but if you pass the century mark you’ve got to be doing something right.
Phillips comes with a hefty price tag though, and admittedly that could be what makes this move nothing but a pipe dream. The 32 year old is signed through 2017 at $11 MM, $12MM, $13MM, and $14MM each year, so the Reds would have to kick in a significant amount of cash to make this deal feasible for the Athletics. The Reds might be open to doing such a thing though after Phillips expressed some dissatisfaction with his contract situation, talk was that he was being shopped this offseason.
If the Reds did send a good amount of money to Oakland with Phillips, the A’s would have to give up a better prospect, but it’s highly doubtful that it would require one of the team’s top young players to get a deal done. A package including someone like Tommy Milone, and some mid-level prospects might be enough to convince the Reds to rid themselves of what they seem to believe is a problem. Phillips and Jed Lowrie could hold down the middle infield, and Addison Russell could take over the shortstop position perhaps by 2015 when Jed Lowrie departs via free agency.
There’s no doubt it’s a bit of a far fetched concept, but as the Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder trade last week demonstrated, there are no deals that are too out of the box to consider. The $50MM contract remaining that the A’s would take on is chump change compared to what the Texas Rangers have absorbed. It’s a move that could drastically change the Athletics lineup, giving them offensive threats throughout. It’s perhaps the boldest of all the moves I will recommend this offseason, and it could have the greatest impact as well in 2014 and beyond.