With pitchers and catchers report just 48 hours away, John Coppolella is still at work.
There is good news and bad news for Braves fans.
Let’s start off with the bad. In a crazy turn of events, newly signed Braves second baseman Sean Rodriguez was involved in a car crash involving a stolen police car in Miami, Florida. The driver of the stolen vehicle died in the crash, and it was reported that Rodriguez’s wife had suffered serious injuries while his two children remained in serious but stable condition. It was initially reported that Rodriguez had not suffered any major injuries in the accident, but Saturday it was revealed that Rodriguez would require shoulder surgery, and could even miss the whole 2017 season. Our writers are hoping for a speedy recovery for Sean and his family, and we hope he can manage to make it on the diamond this upcoming season.
Coppy wasted little time making a corresponding move. It had been reported before the Braves had signed Rodriguez that the team had a deal in place to acquire longtime Reds shortstop Brandon Phillips. However, it never came to fruition as his service with the team and in the league allowed him to veto a trade. However, with the Braves agreeing to uphold his no-trade rights, BP has decided to come home in a deal with Atlanta months later. The Braves will only pay $1 million of Phillips’ remaining salary on the last year of his five-year contract extension he signed with Cincinnati. The team only had to part with minor league pitchers Andrew McKirahan and Carlos Portuondo.
Trading for Phillips is a bigger deal than I think a lot of baseball fans realize. Sure, his on-base percentage from last season was concerning. The same was said of Matt Kemp when he was acquired, but his impact and veteran presence was felt immediately upon his arrival. Phillips is 35 years-old, and he is not getting younger. Rodriguez was indeed the more productive player in 2016. However, in the grand scheme of things this could be a huge outlier year if you look at past seasons. Phillips has been voted an All-Star and won a Gold Glove three times each while Rodriguez is coming off a good year as a late-bloomer in the bigs.
When you consider the WAR Phillips has posted even in recent years, a $1 million investment in the second baseman is a no-brainer considering the team essentially parted with a bucket of balls. Phillips wills serve as the perfect stopgap to Ozzie Albies, and any production out of him will be a steal for the Braves.