Brandon Phillips rejected a trade to the Braves and his native Georgia four months ago, but following a car accident that will keep Sean Rodriguez sidelined potentially three to five months, Phillips on Sunday approved a trade to Atlanta. The Reds received lefthanded reliever Andrew McKirahan and minor league righthander Carlos Portuondo from the Braves in return.
Phillips, 35, has seen his game decline since his peak 2007 season, when he hit 30 homers and posted an .816 OPS. But his .736 OPS last season was his best since 2012 and he's in the final season of a $72 million, six-year deal signed in 2012. He is set to earn $14 million.
McKirahan made his major league debut in 2015, but it has been largely downhill from there. He was suspended 80 games in April of that season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance and struggled in his return, ultimately posting a 5.93 ERA in 27 appearances out of the Braves bullpen. He then missed all of 2016 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery. Prior to surgery, McKirahan specialized as a ground ball-inducing middle reliever with a 93-96 mph fastball and 83-87 mph slider. He will have a chance to pitch out of the Reds bullpen this year if healthy.
The Braves signed Portuondo out of Cuba in Feb. 2016 to a minor league contract with a $990,000 signing bonus. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound righthander never had much success in Cuba, posting a 6.39 ERA in his final season in Serie Nacional, and was similarly unimpressive in his U.S. debut. He struck out only 25 and walked 17 in 34.2 innings, with a pedestrian 90-93 mph fastball. His slider is his go-to secondary pitch. At 29 years old with middling stuff, poor control and no track record of success, Portuondo is widely considered a non-prospect, but his age and proximity to the majors (he finished last year in Triple-A) could see him get a shot if the Reds bullpen is struck by injuries or calamitous performance akin to last year.
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The three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner is past his prime but has still performed respectably at the plate in recent years, hitting .293 and averaging 12 homers, 67 RBI and 18 stolen bases over the past two seasons. His defense took a colossal step back last year, however. His 14 errors were most among National League second basemen, and Baseball-Reference.com charged him with negative-7 defensive runs saved, his worst mark since 2006. If nothing else, Phillips potentially gives the Braves some needed righthanded thump in their lineup, as well as provide fans a hometown hero to root for as the team opens SunTrust Ballpark.