General manager Walt Jocketty announced that the Reds intend to exercise their $12 million option on Brandon Phillips for next season and indicated that the two sides have had some preliminary talks about a long-term contract extension.
Phillips tweeted about having “a lot on my mind” because today might be his final home game with the Reds, but Jocketty quickly squashed that by telling John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer: “He’ll be with us.”
As an elite defensive second baseman with an above-average bat Phillips is definitely worth the $12 million investment for 2012. He’s had arguably the best season of his career, with highs in batting average (.294) and on-base percentage (.346) to go with his second-best OPS (.798), but Phillips has ceased being an effective base-stealer and at age 30 committing for more than a couple seasons would certainly be risky for the Reds at his current price.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.