CHICAGO -- Brandon Phillips' appreciation for the opportunity to play for his hometown team was significant enough for him to contemplate passing on a bonus and the chance to play meaningful games in September. But in the end, the veteran second baseman agreed to spend the rest of this season
CHICAGO -- Brandon Phillips' appreciation for the opportunity to play for his hometown team was significant enough for him to contemplate passing on a bonus and the chance to play meaningful games in September. But in the end, the veteran second baseman agreed to spend the rest of this season with the Angels.
Phillips spent a few hours weighing his options and talking to his family Thursday night before agreeing to a trade that sends him and cash considerations to the Angels in exchange for Minor League catcher Tony Sanchez. The suburban Atlanta native was contractually entitled to veto a trade to 12 teams, including the Angels.
"I let my family make a decision for me," Phillips said after the Braves' 6-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. "I didn't want to leave my family. It was fun playing for the Braves. Hopefully, I can come back next year or whatever is in the future for me. It was really tough leaving the team I grew up watching. This decision was harder than leaving the Reds, honestly."
Phillips ended his 11-season stint with the Reds in February, when Sean Rodriguez's shoulder surgery left the Braves with a sudden need for a second baseman. To get Phillips to agree to this deal, the Braves agreed to a contract clause that provided a $500,000 bonus if he got traded during this season.
The Angels agreed to pay this bonus, and the cash the Braves provided in this deal accounts for the remaining portion of the $1 million financial obligation they made to Phillips. The Reds are paying $13 million of the second baseman's $14 million salary.
"The Angels called us today about Brandon," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "We didn't call them. We felt obligated to share this with Brandon because it means a chance to go to the playoffs and [receive] a trade assignment bonus. Brandon did a tremendous job for us all year and is somebody we will strongly consider this offseason."
Phillips batted .291 with 11 homers and a .753 OPS over 120 games with his hometown team, notching his 2,000th career hit Wednesday in Philadelphia. He spent the first four months filling his familiar role at second base and then made a smooth transition to third base, switching positions after Ozzie Albies, the Braves' No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, was called up Aug. 2.
Phillips is expected to return to his role as an everyday second baseman and form a double-play combo with Andrelton Simmons as the Angels attempt to remain in the thick of the American League Wild Card race, sitting 1 1/2 games back of the second spot entering Friday. They also bolstered their bid for a postseason berth with Thursday afternoon's acquisition of outfielder Justin Upton from the Tigers.
"Right now, my No. 1 goal is to get a ring and play for the Angels," Phillips said. "I didn't want to leave here, but a team called me. They want me to come out there and help them win. Hopefully, I can do that."
Sanchez, a first-round pick of the Pirates in the 2009 Draft, spent portions of 2013-15 with the Pirates. His presence provides an option for a third catcher if the Braves learn Tyler Flowers could miss most of the remaining season with what now appears to be a bruised left hand.
The Braves have not ruled out the possibility of pursuing Phillips as a free agent this offseason. But for now, his exit provides a chance for them to evaluate their youth and get a better feel for their future throughout September.
When Johan Camargo makes his expected return from the disabled list Monday, he will likely serve as the Braves' everyday third baseman. Camargo had established himself as Atlanta's shortstop before suffering a bone bruise to his right knee Aug. 8. Dansby Swanson and Albies have since cemented their roles as Atlanta's middle infielders.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.