Reds will exercise $12 million option on Brandon Phillips

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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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.