It's a bad situation that just seems to be getting worse. The relationship between All-Star second basemen Brandon Phillips and the Reds has slowly deteriorated over the past calendar year and the latest happenings have done nothing to patch that broken relationship up.
It can be said that the winds of negative change first began blowing this summer when Phillips ripped into ownership over the handling of his contract. Phillips came across as unappreciative, envious, and above all disrespectful, which didn't set well with Reds ownership or a select number of Reds fans. A short time later, cameras caught Phillips berating beat reporter C. Trent Rosecrans in Dusty Baker's office, essentially over a tweet that Rosecrans published which Phillips obviously took offense to. For the record, Rosecrans' tweet was nothing more than stating facts, by divulging Phillips' career offensive statistics when hitting in the No. 2 hole in the batting order.
At that point, public support of Phillips began to greatly divide. Ever since his arrival in the Queen City in 2006, the Gold Glove wizard had maintained a rock star status in the city, was a fan favorite, and was as beloved as any person in Cincinnati could be. His flamboyant personality, coupled with his electrifying playing style and willingness to interact with fans, left him with virtually no detractors. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said anymore among Reds Country.
Quite frankly, it seems as though Phillips has worn out his welcome in the organization, and against his will, the club is trying like hell to ship him and the remaining $50 million left on his contract out of town. Rumors have run rampant all offseason about the team's reported interest in trading the 32-year-old. However, the Reds have remained adamant that they do not want to deal him, unless trading him meant improving the team, which is a rather general and ambiguous response indeed. This statement was made multiple times before and during last weekend's Redsfest event in downtown Cincinnati.
On Wednesday, it appeared the Reds had a trade in place to swap the polarizing figure for New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. The move would have shed payroll and given the Reds the center fielder and leadoff hitter they so desperately seek. However, the deal fell through, reportedly when Phillips asked to have more money added to his contract. Hey, New York taxes are rough, so you can't blame the guy for trying to compensate accordingly.
Now, the Reds and Phillips find themselves on the roughest rocks than ever before. Phillips is no doubt steamed that the team continues to try and hide their true intentions publicly. Meanwhile, the Reds have found the market for Phillips to be much less than anticipated. It all adds up to one precarious situation that seems to have only one fitting ending. Yes, it appears a trade involving Phillips is inevitable at this point.
It's one thing in and of itself to try and fail to trade a player. But Phillips isn't your average player. He is a player who drives a considerable number of fans to the stadium and a guy who isn't likely to forgive or forget anytime soon. So, although general manager Walt Jocketty told reporters at the winter meetings that he doesn't believe the failed trade will affect Phillips one way or the other, I have a really hard time believing he actually believes in that sentiment himself. As any player would, Phillips has probably conjured up some semblance of animosity and resentment toward the club over the past few months. It's just human nature. And it's negative feelings that cannot be repaired by meaningless words spoken by club executives through the media. The relationship between player and team is severely battered, perhaps beyond repair, and this is partly why a trade sending Phillips packing seems incredibly imminent this winter.