Reds, Phillips Agree to Extension

Small market or not, Cincinnati has been reaching deep into their pocket to keep their stars in a Reds uniform. After making slugger Joey Votto baseball's fourth ever $200M man, Reds GM Walt Jocketty made statements expressing confidence in extending the contract of All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips. Yesterday an announcement confirmed a five year deal.

Length of contract kept the two sides from agreement earlier so the Reds picked up his $12.5M option for 2012. Finally they offered an additional year. According to Jocketty, "We were able to get the deal done rather quick after that." The new contract will pay Phillips $60M over five years and keep him under Reds control until he's 36 years old.

Phillips has been solid contributor for the Reds, through good times and bad, since his arrival from a trade with Cleveland. After his playing days at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, GA he started his professional career when the Montreal Expos selected him in the second round of the 1999 draft. A few years later he was traded to the Indians in a deal that also included Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Lee Stevens, Bartolo Colon, and Tim Drew. After reaching the big leagues he was a late bloomer, hitting .206 over four seasons with the Tribe. That made him available to the Reds in a 2006 trade for Jeff Stevens.

Upon arrival in Cincinnati there were multiple veterans on the roster capable of playing second base. Phillips immediately took over the job and rewarded the Reds with a .276 average while playing excellent defense. He hasn't slowed down since. In 2007 he joined baseball's exclusive 30/30 club and drove in 94 runs. Though he's hit all over the top of the lineup, last season he established himself as the Reds' top option for leadoff when he hit .300 for the first time. He also provides good pop from his middle infield position with 17+HR during every season as a Red. In 2011 baseball writers rewarded him with the Silver Slugger Award and his third Gold Glove.

Phillips plays with a passion that has endeared him to Reds fans. That led to a misguided statement during the 2010 stretch drive. He was quoted making a slur at the visiting Cardinals before a crucial home series. St. Louis responded by overtaking first place with a three game sweep that was kicked off by a bench-clearing brawl. After that the Reds got back on track and pulled away to win the division title and make their first postseason appearance in fifteen years. That judgment was atypical of the Phillips the Reds have enjoyed during his tenure with the club. Last year he started regularly interacting with fans through a Twitter account. Last night a message was tweeted: "Cincinnati is my home and I'm happy as hell the Reds made my dream come true!"

After several years of MLB dormancy the Cincinnati front office has been active signing players to multi-year deals following the success of 2010. First Jay Bruce signed for $51M/6yrs. After that they inked multi-year deals with Johnny Cueto, Cuban prospect Aroldis Chapman, and newcomer Sean Marshall. Yesterday a dream came true for Brandon Phillips@DatDudeBP. Commitment to the payroll over the coming years is making a strong statement that Reds ownership is ready to dream bigger.

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