CINCINNATI -- All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips' name is circulating in trade rumors this month -- even before the real start of the Hot Stove season.
Reports have stated the Reds have already looked to move Phillips, while general manager Walt Jocketty denied those rumors.
"[Phillips] texted wanting to know if we were trading him. I told him that I have not spoken to anybody about that," Jocketty said on Tuesday. "I'm not talking to any clubs about him."
However, Jocketty would not go so far as to guarantee that Phillips would be with the Reds at the start of Spring Training.
"I'm not saying that," Jocketty said. "We've got some things we've got to look at on how we're going to improve our club. I'm not going to say nobody is untouchable. Obviously, we want to keep as much of this club intact as we can."
In 151 games this season, Phillips batted .261 with 18 home runs and a career-high 103 RBIs. But the three-time National League Gold Glove and 2011 Silver Slugger Award winner's production diminished after sustaining a bruised left forearm when hit by a pitch on June 1 and he missed four games.
Phillips, 32, would be a difficult player to move and it would come less than two years after sigining a six-year, $72 million contract with the Reds in April 2012. There are four years and $50 million remaining on the deal.
That amount could leave a limited circle of suitors, especially to make a trade that would improve the Reds as they try to go further in the playoffs than in recent years. Small-market Cincinnati is trying to keep its window of contention open long term, but is preparing for the loss of leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo and veteran starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Both will soon be free agents.
Controversy surrounded Phillips a couple of times during the second half of this past season. Phillips told Cincinnati Magazine for its August issue that it was a "slap in the face," because teammate Joey Votto signed a 10-year, $225 million contract before completion of his own deal. Phillips also said in the article that CEO Bob Castellini and Jocketty were not truthful with him during negotiations.
In September while in St. Louis, Phillips verbally attacked a newspaper reporter -- an incident that was caught on camera and went viral almost instantly. While both incidents were embarrassing to the organization, the issues aren't likely to be the leading factors if a decision is made to move Phillips.
Jocketty said any potential deal involving Phillips would be a baseball decision that's best for the Reds.
"Absolutely," Jocketty affirmed.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.