It’s the end of an era for the Cincinnati Reds. Long time second basemen and fan favorite Brandon Phillips, who has been with the team since 2006, has been dealt to the Atlanta Braves. Naturally, many fans are disappointed by the news. But many others understand that this was a necessary move, and apparently so do the Reds.
The Reds didn’t trade Phillips to the Braves, they gave him away. They got next to nothing for him. Just a few mid-level minor league prospects. Not to mention the fact they still have to pay $13 million of his contract. On the surface, this seems like a very stupid thing to do. However, it makes sense when you analyze it further. The point of trading Phillips wasn’t to see what they could get for him, it was instead to make room for up-and-coming infield prospects. One such prospect is third-year player Jose Peraza.
Peraza was first acquired by the Reds in a three-team trade in December 2015. Since then, he has played in 72 Games for the Reds. In 2016, He hit .281 with 2 home runs and 22 RBIs. Most of Peraza’s professional career has been spent in the minors, as he has been unable to find consistent playing time in the big leagues. That’s all about to change starting this year. The Phillips trade will give Peraza a chance to become the Reds’ starting second basemen. If he wants to do that, he needs to show that he is capable of filling that void and producing like an everyday player.
Any Reds fan knows that Phillips’ production with the glove will be almost impossible to replace. Replacing his bat however, will be much easier. Peraza is off to a good start this spring, going 7-12 with three stolen bases in his first four games. His production so far will go a long way toward securing a spot as a starter, and keeping fellow infield prospect Dilson Herrera in the minors a little bit longer.
One very important aspect of Peraza’s game is his flexibility. He can play third base and shortstop, as well as second base (another advantage he has over Herrera). Last season, he filled in quite nicely for the injured Zach Cozart, proving he can produce when called upon. The Reds will be able to use him in a variety of roles if needed. He is also very dangerous on the bases, compiling 21 steals last season. This production, while impressive, still doesn’t predict how Peraza will perform over the span of a full 162 game season. If he can keep that performance up for a whole year, then the Reds have found a long-term replacement for Phillips.
I’m not going to lie, the Phillips era was fun. Watching him make eye-popping, jaw-dropping plays night after night never got old. And his optimism and infectious smile sometimes made you forget he played on a losing team for most of his career. But this is a team in serious need of a rebuild, and they need to start getting promising young players looks if they can reasonably expect to contend in the near future. Peraza appears to be one of those players. He, along with Billy Hamilton, Devin Mesoraco, and Anthony DeSclafani represents the future of this organization, and will help shape the identity of the team for years to come.