Brandon Phillips on contract talks with Reds: “I haven’t heard anything”

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Brandon Phillips arrived at Reds camp today and naturally got some questions about the status of long-term contract negotiations as the second baseman enters his final season before free agency.

Phillips told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that the two sides haven’t talked about a deal since “before Redsfest … it’s been a long time.”

Here’s more from Phillips, who’ll make $12 million this season before hitting the open market at age 31:

I thought it would be over with by now. It is what it is. The only thing I can do is go out there and play the game, do what’s best for the team. I love the moves we made to make the team better. That’s what it’s all about. We can all go out and get things done. My day will come. I’m not really worried about it. I’m letting my agent and the Reds take care that themselves. It would have been nice coming to camp knowing things were done. I haven’t heard anything.

Phillips added that his agent and general manager Walt Jocketty are planning to meet at some point during spring training, explaining that he doesn’t expect to set a firm deadline for talks and “just want(s) what other second baseman got.”

If true, he could be looking for something similar to Dan Uggla’s five-year, $62 million deal with the Braves or Brian Roberts’ five-year, $50 million deal with the Orioles. Historically speaking, second basemen generally haven’t landed monster contracts. Phillips’ current deal was worth $38 million for five years.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.