When you think of the Cincinnati Reds, the names Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips come to mind. But for Reds fans, Shin Soo Choo is another name that this year became a household one.
Choo was the spark in a sometimes anemic Reds offense in the leadoff position, a spot that the Reds so desperately needed to fill after years of below average leadoff hitting.
Phillips is a perennial Gold Glove winning second baseman, who has won the award for second basemen in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013. Both players were key components to the Reds making it to the wild card playoff game this year against Pittsburgh.
Much to my disappointment, there have been trade talks involving Brandon Phillips, and because Choo was only signed to a one year deal, the Reds offered him a $14.1 million qualifying offer for another one year deal. Choo is a free agent so he can sign wherever he pleases, but the Reds need him the most and will benefit from his leadership if he returns.
Some people say that Joey Votto is the king of Cincinnati, but I would beg to differ. Brandon Phillips has been the face of the Reds ever since he arrived in Cincinnati from Cleveland in 2008. If the Reds do end up trading Phillips, they will not be able to find anyone to fill the defensive void that he would create.
Phillips has made comments about his feelings on his contract he signed last season, about how he feels he was offered less money than the club could afford to spend on him. The contract was for 10 years and $98 million, $50 million of which he has yet to earn with four years remaining. This is one of few reports as to why Phillips is on his way out in Cincinnati. But despite any hard feelings Phillips and the Reds organization have between them, I think the Reds realize that he is the best second basemen and they will not be able to replace his hard work and consistency.
Questions surrounded Choo’s defensive abilities in the beginning of last season. He did not help his case early in the year, as he committed a few errors but he really got it together and strung together an above average defensive year playing center field for the Reds. He went above and beyond his duties of filling in for Drew Stubbs by having a better offensive season than Stubbs had ever had in Cincinnati. Choo also became a fan favorite, and it would sadden me to see him go, even though that looks like what will happen. After Choo’s season last year, he would be useful to a lot of teams as a left handed hitter and a solid outfielder.
When all is said and done, I hope to see both of these guys take the field on Opening Day in 2014. If both players know what is good for them, they will stay in Cincinnati. The Reds have the skills to make it far into the playoffs, and they need veteran leaders like Phillips and Choo to help lead the team to make that elusive deep playoff run happen.
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