Despite being traded twice this offseason, Brandon Phillips is back with the Cincinnati Reds for an 11th season.
According to Walt Jocketty, vice president of baseball operations, the Reds had deals with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Washington Nationals in place only to have Phillips veto them, his right as a player with 10 years in the majors and at least five with one team.
Phillips, who turns 35 in June, is the longest-tenured player on a rebuilding team that acquired Jose Peraza from the Los Angeles Dodgers specifically to replace him.
For some reason, Phillips refused to acknowledge the deals Wednesday even though Jocketty has talked openly about them.
“If that’s what he said, that’s what he said,” Phillips said. “I can’t really go off what people say. I only know what I really do. I know what the Aces, I’m represented by them, told me. I’m happy to be representing (Cincinnati), I play for the fans and I play for my family.”
Aces is the agency owned by brothers Sam and Seth Levinson that represents several dozen players including Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Mets third baseman David Wright.
Phillips, a four-time Gold Glove winner, had a bounce-back year in 2015 after being limited to 121 games in 2014. He hit .294 in 148 games with 12 home runs, 23 stolen bases and another solid season in the field.
“The only thing I know is I’m still playing for the Reds,” Phillips said. “I’m happy to be here. Whatever you all heard, that’s what you all really hear. I can’t really speak on many things.”
A trade to Washington would have put Phillips on a contender and reunited him with manager Dusty Baker, who managed the Reds for five seasons.
Phillips said he doesn’t like that fans and observers think Cincinnati is likely to finish at the bottom of the NL Central.
“What we can do is go out there and prove people wrong. I don’t believe in the word rebuild and telling the city we’re not going to win,” he said. “Every major leaguer comes to spring training to try to win and try to get to the World Series. That’s what our mission is to really do, no matter how young and how sorry people think we’re going to really be.”
Phillips said he is willing to help young players — even those, like Peraza, poised to take his job.
“I’m an open book,” Phillips said. “If you ask me a question, I’m going to tell you how it is. You might not like what I say but I’m a realist. Of course, I’m here to help out as much as I can.”