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The Yankees turned down a Brett Gardner-for-Brandon Phillips deal

Dec 11, 2013, 10:34 PM EDT

Brandon Phillips AP AP

UPDATE: Well, now it makes more sense. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman was told by an NL source that before the Yankees turned down the deal, Phillips asked to the Reds re-open his contract and give him more money as an incentive to agree to a trade.

Phillips has a limited no-trade clause which allows him to block trades to 10 teams, so apparently the Yankees are one of them.

10:34 p.m. ET: Here’s an interesting one. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Yankees have turned down a trade that would have sent outfielder Brett Gardner to the Reds for second baseman Brandon Phillips.

It sounds like a pretty good match on paper, as the Yankees have a surplus of outfielders and Phillips would help fill the void at second base now that Robinson Cano has agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners. Meanwhile, Gardner would give the Reds a quality option to take over the leadoff spot (and potentially center field) with Shin-Soo Choo expected to sign elsewhere. However, the Yankees passed on the opportunity.

It’s worth wondering whether Phillips’ contract had something to do with the Yankees passing here, as he’s owed $50 million over the next four seasons and is already 32 years old. There isn’t much out there among free agent second basemen beyond Omar Infante, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them revisit the possibility later on.

Phillips amassed 18 homers and a career-high 103 RBI this past season, but he posted a mediocre .703 OPS in the process. Gardner, a popular trade target at this year’s Winter Meetings, batted .273/.344/.416 with eight homers and 24 stolen bases over 145 games this past season. He can become a free agent next winter.

  1. spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Brandon Phillips is perfect for NY. Must be the Yankees don’t want to absorb his contract. The Reds however, are maxed out, so if they have to make another player available to satisfy the Yanks, it will be about the cash, not the equality of the talent exchange.

  2. Kevin S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Yeah, perfect match except for the part where Gardner’s younger, cheaper and better.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      You hit that nail on the head.

      • nymets4ever - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:44 PM

        He is also redundant, bc Ellsbury is like Gardner, but better at everything. So why pass up the opportunity to trade him for a 2B who just drove in 100 runs??

      • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:47 PM

        I’m in agreement here. It isn’t that I don’t value Gardner’s talent, it just doesn’t play well in Yankee stadium, and the redundancy is problematic.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:58 PM

        He’s not redundant. You are allowed to play more than one outfielder at the same time.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        Maybe he’s better than Phillips because Phillips numbers have been tracking down the last 3 years. Maybe it’s because Gardner had a better BA, OBP, SLG% and OPD and a better base stealer than Phillips in 2013.

        Why is it redundant to have 2 speedy defensively outfielders with exceptional base stealing abilities and that can get on base (Gardner and Ellsbury) and have 2 additional outfielders with power (Soriano and Beltran) with one or the other doing some DH’ing when necessary.

        I think i’ts only redundant in peoples minds.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        correction: “OPS”

    • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      Younger and cheaper, but the better part I would quibble with, mostly because you don’t, nor do advanced metrics fully value, Phillips’ defense.

      • djpostl - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:35 PM

        They don’t properly value Gardner’s either. He is considered to be a top tier OF, especially in LF where his metrics are crazy.

      • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:40 PM

        Granted I do not see him play every day. But it is hard for me to place him in “top tier”, when he cannot throw. Plus from what I see, be it less than optimal, at times he is awkward.

        But more importantly, defense at a corner OF position is nice, but has no where near the value as a premier second baseman.

      • djpostl - Dec 13, 2013 at 2:17 AM

        True but it isn’t just “defense at it” it is “break the metrics” level. A couple of years back he saved as many runs in LF as the top CF in MLB did. That is insnaely difficult to do.

      • genericcommenter - Dec 12, 2013 at 8:59 AM


        That’s interesting considering Gardner has been rated as the most valuable defensive player in the AL one season, and the top 10 at least one other, while playing left.

      • spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        That says more about the American League than it does Gardner.

    • contraryguy - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:46 PM

      … and I wasn’t going to comment this evening…

      aside from stealing bases, which isn’t really in the Reds recent playbook, exactly what is Gardner better at? We’re talking about a slap hitter whose triples would evaporate in GABP, and for that matter, any fielding advantage… it’s not a big park to roam, so good luck selling the range factor. If there’s an imbalance here, it’s the contract, not the ability.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:01 PM

        Thirty-five points of OBP matter, and whether the stolen bases are “in the Reds’ playbook” or not, Gardner has real value on the basepaths. Fun fact, he also had a higher slugging percentage and ISO than BP last year. Phillips is right at the age when non-superstar 2B fall off a cliff.

      • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:20 PM

        Brandon Phillips hit 4th for the majority of 2013. The last thing the Reds needed was a guy who was looking for a walk, following Votto. You can argue that it would be better strategy had he accepted walks, and that stance is valuable. My point is, that was not his approach. And his numbers did drop off significantly after his hand injury, that isn’t debatable.

        I cannot predict the future, but I can tell you about 2013, and Brandon Phillips showed no signs of losing any defensive ability.

      • jonrox - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:47 AM


        You seem to be under the impression that, after a trade, the new player has to bat in the same spot in the order as the old player. Fortunately, that is not the case, so the Reds could feel free to bat Gardner in the leadoff spot, where he would be quite valuable. Meanwhile, they could replace Phillips’ below-average cleanup at-bats with someone like Ludwick/Bruce/Frazier/Mesoraco.

    • jerze2387 - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:15 PM

      Gardner is 30, phillips is 32. not that big of a difference. I think everybody thinks gardner is younger than he really is because he hasnt been a full timer for very long.

      Phillips bat and defense profiling for a 2B > Gardners bat profile for an OF.

      yankees should have jumped all over this deal, and filled the hole Cano left with the best possible alternative. In yankee stadium, i venture to say Phillips would have made the drop off minimal from a defense and power numbers standpoint. average maybe a bit.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:25 PM

        It’s just over 2 years difference and 2 years is a pretty big difference when on top of that difference you are being asked to pick up $50MM in salary and 4 years more of a player who’s offense has been tracking down. Lets not forget Phillips is playing a position that most players do not age well playing. That’s an insane amount of money and years for a team to pick up and also give up a player.

  3. uyf1950 - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Glad Cashman turned down that offer. At a cost of $50MM 4 years for a 32year old and Gardner. Phillips definitely isn’t worth it.

    • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM

      Agree to a point, but if they could share the cost, he would be cheaper than Infante, and a better deal for the Yankees.

    • gibbyfan - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      I know it’s not EXACTLY apples to apples but the Crdinals just spent 53M for a SS who is 31 year old SS who is nowhere near as good defensively as BP…………….seems everyone thought that was a great deal…if they are right then maybe the deal wasn’t so bad for the Yanks

      • Kevin S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:02 PM

        But he’s much better offensively, and SS is more valuable than second base.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:08 PM

        Not apples to apples my friend. Peralta was a free agent. The Cardinals didn’t have to give another team a young quality outfielder and $53MM.

      • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM

        Maybe you have to be an adversary in order to gain credibility evaluating Phillips defensive skills.
        I won’t speak for you, but Brandon Phillips is one of my least favorite players in the game. That said, that SOB has stolen so many hits versus the Cards, often in critical moments, that I begrudgingly have to champion his defense.

        And his offense which was very good in the first half, took a significant dive after his hand injury, which if my memory serves me right was do to an errant Cards’ pitch.

        And if anybody could handle the NY limelight, be it real or imaginary, it is Phillips.

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 7:37 AM

        Actually, Peralta is a better defender. He is not a better SS than Phillips is a 2B, but he plays a position that Phillips is not capable of playing.

      • gibbyfan - Dec 12, 2013 at 9:13 AM

        Well, Paper by that reasoning you could say Jackson (or really fill in the name of any SS) is a better defender too. I’m no fan of BP either. But’ I’ll be glad to see him out if Cincy but he has been one helluva player and I think he has a few more years……..of course UFY is right in that we are talking a different situation here but I’m just saying if Perralta was worth that money then so is BP………….Of course I know Perralta wasn’t really worth the money because Mo said that they had no choice but to overpay and I trust that judgment, even though I think they will regret it, time will tell

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

        Peralta is actually an average defensive SS. Do you think Phillips could be an average defensive SS? If so, then his skills have been horribly wasted at 2B.

        People don’t seem to understand this….but the BEST fielding 1B still has less defensive value than an average defensive SS, because average SS are great defenders, 1B are generally not, and the SS position has far more potential to prevent runs than a 1B. 2B is actually about as hard to play and as valuable a defensive position as 3B.

      • gibbyfan - Dec 12, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        yes Paper –I get that certain positions have differeing defensive values –and I did say it wasn’t exactly apples to apples, but all things considered, including the fact that BP is a gold glove quality 2b and JP is actually let’s say an average defensive SS, and BP has much better offensive potential, If JP is worth 50M over4 years then to me BP is too and I’m betting if he was a F/A he would actually get more…..

  4. ienjoysensi - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    Have to debate what else can you really get right now ? If they pass on infante you have to believe they revisit talks regardless of his contract unless they have some other trade for a better player mapped out . 103 rbis in a down year for the reds. Losing Gardner wouldn’t hurt the Yankees as much as adding Phillips would help .

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:21 AM

      103 rbis in a down year for the reds.

      There’s far better ways to evaluate talent than via RBIs.

      • ienjoysensi - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:48 AM

        I agree. But put him in the Yankee lineup n he should be a 100 RBI guy again , and don’t the Yankees need a second baseman ? A good one wouldn’t hurt.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 12, 2013 at 7:47 AM

        He was barely a 100 RBI guy batting behind Choo and Votto. The Yankees don’t have two .400+ OBP guys, and they certainly wouldn’t be following them up with Brandon Phillips. He’d hit like 7th for the Yankees.

  5. Kevin S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    LOL at BP trying to squeeze more money out of the trade.

    I mean, the partial NTC is there as leverage for this sort of situation, but one has to be good enough to justify ones current contract before one can try to leverage a raise.

  6. cackalackyank - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    Can we just get on with the Infante deal please. If it really comes down to it, try trading Gardner or some other excess OF if possible for starting pitching. There are only three reasons I can think of for Infante not being done yet: A. He does not want to play for NYY. B. He is playing Cano’s contract for the max effect an Cashman is balking. C. He has tons of offers that are all roughly the same.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      Actually reports are that Infante is looking for a 4 year deal. And yes the Yankees are opposed to a 4 year deal for him and rightfully so.

      • cackalackyank - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:45 PM

        Thanks uyf. I’ll classify that as an extension of premise B. While I agree 4 years is too much, I can see his rationale in thinking ‘If Cano can get 10 years, certainly I can get 4’. Problem is that Cano’s deal is at least 3 years too long, and guaranteeing money for a middle infielders age 35 season 4 years out doesn’t seem like a great idea.

    • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      D.) Infante is talented, but the market is lame, and the Yanks like any team, don’t like being forced into a deal that they know kinda sucks.

      • missingdiz - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        Probably crazy, but I’d like to see the Cards offer the Reds Lynn and Wong for Phillips and $20-30 million (to compensate for the last 2 years of his contract when he’s probably not going to start). Yadi and Phillips would have to be grown-ups about it. Phillips wouldn’t have to hit 4th for the Cards, but he would boost the line-up wherever he hit. And he really can play second. If the Reds have soured on him so much, why not?

      • spudchukar - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:58 PM

        Wong was a first round draft choice, who has excelled in every stage in his brief minor league experience. Lynn has issues, but awesome stuff, and despite his tendency to nibble, and blow up and not make pitches in key situations, is still a #3 in almost any team’s rotation.

        Maybe you weren’t serious, so touche if that be the case. However, as a Cards fan I doubt that. But if not, the Cards would not have traded Freese, and move Carpenter to 3B, if they didn’t have faith in Wong’s ability.

      • missingdiz - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:12 AM

        It does seem that the Cards “have faith in Wong’s ability.” I don’t, although I wish him well and I hope I’ll look back on this and think I was stupid. But I don’t see that Wong really has excelled in the minors. Hitting .300 barely in AAA doesn’t make you a star in the majors. I don’t understand complicated defensive stats, but his errors per chances rate is about the same as DesCalso’s. Lynn could replace Arroyo, and maybe someday he’ll find some way to maintain confidence in himself and be as good as he can be, which would be very good indeed. Otherwise, he’s going to be Joe Blanton.
        I don’t know what goes on in the clubhouses. Maybe Phillips is impossible to deal with. But I’d like to have a bit more confidence in the infield. Maybe Brian Roberts? Give him a one-year deal, see if he’s 80% of what he was before the injuries. Maybe he could win the 2B job, but if not an experienced switch-hitter on the bench would not be bad.

      • spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:34 AM

        I happen to agree with the Roberts suggestion, and have stated so on a number of occasions. However, Lynn has great stuff, just needs to learn to make pitches in tough situations, and not nibble.

        Wong’s offensive numbers, while not exceptional are consistently above average. He has good range, is fast, can steal bases, and has displayed a high Baseball IQ. True his error rate is a little higher than I would like, but Kozma’s were absolutely awful in his first two season’s and he performed magnificently once he advanced and then graduated to the Bigs. I have confidence the Cards minor league advisers know what they are doing, they have a pretty good track record.

      • bjrussell2 - Dec 12, 2013 at 2:12 AM

        I have read that Phillips has attitude issues. If that is true, the Yankees may have balked at the deal for that reason. They already have A-Roid and his arrogance. However if Phillips wants to play for the Yankees, his attitude may improve. Then again, maybe what I have read is untrue.

      • spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        Phillips is more flamboyant and out-spoken than a clubhouse problem. He plays hard, shows up every day for work, and has an ebullient personality. Should do just fine in NY.

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 7:35 AM

        Yes, missingdiz. That is crazy.

        The Cardinals wouldn’t trade Wong for Phillips straight up, and probably wouldn’t do it if the Reds offered to throw in $10M. His bat is really declining and that is while hitting in a hitters park. His defense is nice, but it is his only plus contribution at this point. Add his attitude to that and the Cardinals likely would have no interest in Phillips if he was free.

      • spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        I don’t know about the attitude thing, and his second half decline last year was impacted by his HBP hand injury, but the Cards do not need him, and the younger, cheaper, promising Wong should get his opportunity to excel in 2014. Hopefully he won’t disappoint, but a back-up there is needed, and a right-handed option seems to be on the Cards’ radar.

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Can you imagine what the Cardinals would do if Phillips had that diatribe on camera directed at the beat reporter? There is no way they would have just ignored it, or Matheny would have been chuckling. They guy just hasn’t learned how to behave professionally. I don’t think they are interested in guys that you can predict will be squeaky wheels when things aren’t going their way…which will probably happen a lot to Phillips during his decline phase as reality will match his perception of himself less and less.

      • spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        While I wouldn’t count Phillips down and out, his defense did not decline, I do agree that part of the problem is his overvaluation of his talents.

        Of course he could handle things better, but I also don’t believe Votto and others are totally innocent in the kerfuffle. And it will be fun to see how things play out, especially after the trade attempts and all.

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        Yeah, they seem to have some clubhouse leadership problems. In general, clubhouse leadership should start with the manager…if you are relying on players to set the tone, you have a problem. It is great when players get on board…but the manager needs to set the tone and be a leader first and foremost.

      • spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        I agree that Phillips would struggle as a short stop. However, Peralta would not be better at second than Phillips either. Would he handle it better than Phillips would SS, probably but either scenario would result in downgrades.

        I almost forgot about my post last night. After Freese was moved it was inevitable that Carpenter would move to third, and it is kind of a bummer, cause he adapted so quickly to the position. But I bet the new instant replay usage played a role in the Cards’ decision making. All second basemen cheat on the double play, but Carpenter does more than most. Maybe it is more pronounced due to his build, but nonetheless it is real.

        I don’t know how things will shake up regarding the “phantom base tag”, but if MLB insists second basemen remain on the bag, teams better be sure to have a handful of other options than their starter, because injuries will become rampant. So the Cards knowing this, move Carpenter, a more valuable commodity to the safer third base position, insert the quicker, and more deft Wong, and maybe sign Roberts as insurance.

  7. spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    If the updates are real, and Phillips is negotiating for a salary increase to go the NY, then I would say this deal is in its final stages.

    • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 7:40 AM

      By final stages, you mean death throes?

      Phillips is unlikely to be worth his currently contract, much less an extension.

      • jm91rs - Dec 12, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Phillips is likely asking the Reds to go ahead and double his contract before he’ll accept the trade. Confidence is a fine thing in a baseball player, but I can guarantee you that a guy with Brandon’s “swag” thinks he gave Cincinnati a home town discount last year. We’re a few weeks away from Brandon trying to force a trade and things getting ugly.

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        Probably. He definitely takes things personally, even when they are business. That is understandable in the heat of the moment, not advisable, but understandable…but he months/years later he is still taking

        You gotta love the passion. But at some point there also has to be reality and professionalism.

      • spudchukar - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        I just see it as an agent’s ploy, and usually they don’t come into play in this manner until things are pretty far along. That said, maybe this is Phillips’ way of trying to gum up the works, and stay in Cincinnati, although I don’t know why he would want to do that.

  8. uyf1950 - Dec 12, 2013 at 5:33 AM

    “Phillips asked to the Reds re-open his contract and give him more money as an incentive to agree to a trade…” As if $50MM over the next 4 years for a 32 year old who will turn 33 mid way through the 2014 season and whose performance is declining isn’t enough.

    The only way this deal makes any sense for the Yankees if they are to give up Gardner, which I still am not in favor of, is if the Reds eat half of that $50MM.

  9. anxovies - Dec 12, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    35 is not that advanced for a second baseman. Sign Infante for 4. The Yankees have nobody who can take over at 2B, David Adams showed nothing last year. The only other FA at 2B with numbers is Uribe and he will be 35 in July, and likely want at least a 2 year deal..

    • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 7:46 AM

      35 is an advanced age for a baseball player

      There are 255 starting spots for position players (including the DH), 140 players qualified for the batting title, 10 were 35 or older, only 2 of those players were good defenders, 2 more were average, 5 of them horrible. The vast majority of players that are starters are not capable of being a starter because of healthy or skills by the time they are 35.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 12, 2013 at 8:58 AM

        Wait, designated hitter is a real position? (Sarcasm, not directed at you, Paperlions.)

        So that means Soriano can play DH, Gardner can play left, Ellsbury can play center, and Beltran can play right.

        I honestly don’t see a surplus of outfielders in the Bronx. Not even a little. Someone’s going to get hurt, not because he’s fragile, but because injuries happen and they happen more often with an older team. The Yankees would rue the day they traded Gardner. As a Red Sox fan, I’m really hoping they see it differently.

  10. dakotaandotter - Dec 12, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    the Yankees should throw another $10M into the deal and be all over that. they don’t need Gardner and Phillips is a GG 2B who has power and drives in runs and stays healthy. just four more years on contract takes him to 36. the Yankees are not going to get a good SP for Gardner.

  11. jm91rs - Dec 12, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Hard to imagine the Reds were planning on picking up any of that contract, they’re not a team that can pay a player to go away. I wonder if the icing on the cake here was that BP asked for the extra money on the deal. The guy genuinely believes he is not overpaid, and while I know he is, seeing some of the free agent deals that have been done this year, I have to think he would have gotten close to that money somewhere else. He still would have been overpaid, but most free agents are this winter.

    • jm91rs - Dec 12, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      As a Reds fan, gut reaction is that the team will not get better by trading Phillips, but I hear more and more about him being a bit of a clubhouse cancer. Not sure what that’s worth when it comes to wins and losses, but it certainly doesn’t help. Sure would be nice to free up the money to help resign Bailey or bring in another bullpen arm.

  12. davidbrentfan - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Smart move by the Yankees to not complete this trade.
    Gardner is younger, much faster, better defense, much better OBP, vastly cheaper, and he’s not a clubhouse cancer like Phillips. Far better player than Phillips at this point. The Yankees would have lost with this trade due to personality issues alone, in addition to the fact that Gardner is the much better player.

  13. ienjoysensi - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    That website sucks.

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