Cincinnati Reds Look to the Future with Phillips Trade

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MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 23: Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds smiles during batting practice before the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 23, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end”. That proverb came true for the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday when they sent their long-time second basemen, Brandon Phillips, to the Atlanta Braves in a three-player deal. Atlanta made it official via Twitter yesterday.

Cincinnati Reds Look to the Future with Phillips Trade

The Phillips trade marked the official end to an era that had been trying to close for the past two seasons. After making the playoffs three out of four years between 2010 and 2013, the Reds saw their window of opportunity closing quickly due to injuries, aging players, and unreliable pitching. Instead of making moves, Cincinnati hoped for better results simply by running the same exact players out there for the 2014 and 2015 seasons before deciding to throw in the towel.

They were a lot like your favorite TV show. It’s exciting and you look forward to watching it every week, but then there comes a time where everyone seems to know it’s not that anymore. Everyone except for the people in charge, that is. After dragging the show out two years too long, the Reds front office saw that the ratings were bad and decided to reboot.

How it Began

The first piece of the puzzle to move was outfielder Chris Heisey. Though Heisey never was a star, he was beloved by the Reds fan base. He was just one of those guys who always seemed to come up big when the team needed him, whether it was a clutch hit or a nice defensive play with the game on the line. After his best season as a big leaguer, it made sense for the Reds to strike a deal when his value was at its highest.

Then, the first real domino fell. About a week later the Reds moved Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins and Alfredo Simon to the Detroit Tigers in two separate transactions on the same day. While Latos was coming off an injury-riddled season, he was the team’s number two starter at the beginning of the year. Simon, on the other hand, had just played well above what anyone could have predicted. He had pitched his way into the All-Star Game and his ceiling was about as high as it would ever get. The moves sent up the smoke signal that a rebuild was in the works.

The Next Steps

Fast forward to the trade deadline of 2015; the team was 10 games under .500 and the full on fire sale began. Long-time ace Johnny Cueto got sent to Kansas City, where he later won a World Series and then followed up in ’16 with a Cy Young-caliber season. Next, Mike Leake, a streaky, yet promising pitcher, was shipped off to San Francisco to help the Giants contend.

A few short months later, that fire sale turned into a warehouse clearance sale. Everything must go, and go it did. First up was Todd Frazier, who had just rocketed his way to MLB stardom and capped it off with the most epic Home Run Derby in the event’s history. If that wasn’t enough to depress the Reds fan base, 12 days later the team sent Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees. Through the previous two grueling seasons, Chapman had been the one constant. No matter how the game was going, fans could depend on him to lifts their spirits, or at least light up the radar gun. Now, even that was gone.

Where the Reds Now Find Themselves

With Jay Bruce’s overdue departure in the middle of the 2016 season and now the Phillips trade, the once promising and potential-laden Reds find themselves back in that same boat. Having never fulfilled said potential, they had no choice but to clean house and try again. Joey Votto and Homer Bailey are the only two players remaining from the 2010 team that sparked the Reds run at glory. Votto rumors have been swirling for years, but the 33-year-old wants to stay put. Bailey has shown glimpses of brilliance but, between injuries and inconsistencies, has never been able to piece together a full season worth writing home about.

As sad as it may be to see a team that had so much talent and life dwindle before one’s very eyes, that’s baseball. Baseball is a beautiful game thanks to the fact that the past is held as dearly as the future. Brandon Phillips’ highlight plays will always be there. Joey Votto’s MVP season will always be there. Jay Bruce’s walk off to break the Reds 15-year playoff drought will never be forgotten.

Baseball is also a beautiful game because there is always next year. Through the numerous aforementioned trades and several other minor moves that weren’t included, the Reds have reason to be hopeful for the future. From the eight deals listed, the Phillips trade not included, the team has acquired ten players who now currently fill roles on the 40-man roster, while the other players either are waiting in the wings in the minors, or have been dealt elsewhere.

Getting younger and more talented is always the goal, especially after a rough patch. Cincinnati has done that.

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