Amid reports that the Reds are planning to trade Brandon Phillips this offseason general manager Walt Jocketty was asked about the situation yesterday and insisted: “I’m not talking to any clubs about him.”
Jocketty told reporters assembled for the Bryan Price introductory press conference that he recently texted Phillips to assure him “I have not spoken to anybody about that.”
Of course, when asked if he’d guarantee Phillips will still be in Cincinnati come Opening Day the GM replied:
I’m not saying that. We’ve got some things we’ve got to look at on how we’re going to improve our club. I’m not going to say nobody is untouchable. Obviously, we want to keep as much of this club intact as we can.
So read into all of that whatever you will. My take is that the Reds are clearly willing to field offers on Phillips and assuming there are teams that view the 32-year-old second baseman as worth the $50 million remaining on his contract a trade seems pretty likely.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.