Cincinnati Reds v Washington Nationals

Reds GM on Brandon Phillips extension: “I think it’s still a ways to go”

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Yesterday Brandon Phillips took to Twitter to suggest that negotiations with the Reds over a long term deal were progressing. Reds GM Walt Jocketty — while hopeful himself — walked that back a bit last night:

When reached for comment, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty didn’t believe a deal was near. “I think it’s still a ways to go,” Jocketty said. “We’re still hopeful to get something done. We’re glad he feels that way … “I don’t think we’re that close [with Phillips], no”

We’ll hear when we hear, obviously. But I find this less interesting from the perspective of where Phillips’ deal with the Reds stands than it is in terms of social media dynamics.  Brandon Phillips is a pretty savvy Twitter user. I wonder how much of his tweeting about a deal is designed to exert a bit of pressure on the front office.  It resulted in Jocketty having to answer questions last night. Fans will certainly take greater notice of the negotiation now.

While it likely won’t happen here, I could foresee a situation one day where a player — if he handles it just so — could really exert some pressure on the front office by creating an impression that a deal is closer than it really is. Subtle suggestions, say, that ownership is cheap or something. Sure, players and their agents have done that sort of thing for years via proxies in the media, but direct contact with fans seems like it could be a different, more effective thing.

Report: Phillies want a top-five prospect for Jeremy Hellickson

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 20: Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the second inning during a game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on July 20, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.

ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.

Video: Matt Cain launches a three-run home run

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 26: Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants hits a three run home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at AT&T Park on July 26, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.

Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.

It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.

On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.