The Atlanta Braves acquired veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. Atlanta sends minor league relief pitchers Carlos Portoundo and Andrew McKirahan to the Reds for the 35-year-old Phillips.
Atlanta needs a new second baseman after receiving news Friday that Sean Rodriguez likely will miss the entire 2017 season. Rodriguez and his family were involved in a serious car accident Jan. 30. Rodriguez sustained a significant shoulder injury in the crash, and he may require surgery.
The accident occurred when a stolen police cruiser hit the Chevy Suburban driving by Rodriguez. The driver of the stolen vehicle died in the accident. Rodriguez’s wife and children both spent time in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The Braves will turn to Phillips for veteran leadership in the infield. They had tried to trade for Phillips earlier in the offseason, and when talks broke down with the Reds, the Braves then signed Rodriguez.
Cincinnati has been looking to move Phillips to make room for Jose Peraza, a former Braves prospect. Phillips, who is in the final year of his contract, had 10-and-5 rights and could block any trade.
Since Phillips is from Stone Mountain, Atlanta was the perfect fit. That gave the Braves great leverage to acquire Phillips, and his new team will be responsible for only $1.5 million of the $14 million due to Phillips this season.
Phillips has been Cincinnati’s starting second baseman since 2006. He’s a three-time All-Star, won a Silver Slugger Award (in 2011) and has won four Gold Glove Awards for his play at second base.
Last season, Phillips hit .291 with 11 home runs and 64 RBI, with a .320 on-base percentage. After the All-Star Break, Phillips hit .335 with five home runs, 30 RBI and a .350 OBP. He hit .346 after Aug. 1.
The Braves want a veteran to play second base to give more time for young Ozzie Albies to develop. Albies is Atlanta’s second-best prospect, behind shortstop Dansby Swanson, and at 20 years old, Albies may need only half the season before being ready for the big leagues.
The 29-year-old Portuondo was signed last spring out of Cuba. He made 17 appearances between Carolina and Gwinnett and had a 3.63 ERA. McKirahan had his second Tommy John surgery last spring. He pitched in 27 games for the Braves in 2015 and had a 5.93 ERA.
Phillips will likely hit sixth in the Atlanta lineup. The Braves are expected to go with Ender Inciarte, Swanson, Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis in the first five spots in the order. Adonis Garcia and Tyler Flowers will take the last two positions in the order.