PITTSBURGH -- One of the major issues on the Reds offseason plate is trying to sign second baseman Brandon Phillips beyond next season. Although Phillips' $12 million club option hasn't formally been exercised, general manager Walt Jocketty is already on record about the plan to pick it up. As for the long-term future, Jocketty will meet with Phillips' agents in New York this week while the Reds are in town to play the Mets. The talks are expected to be preliminary in nature.
"We've had some discussions. It's more of just continuing discussions," Jocketty said Sunday morning. Phillips is represented by Seth and Sam Levinson, who helped ink him to a four-year, $27 million contract before the 2008 season. Phillips said on Thursday he would not accept any hometown discount to re-sign with the Reds rather than exploring the open market as a free agent after next season. When asked if contract talks with Phillips could be prolonged and last into the winter, Jocketty replied "I would think so." Phillips, 30, is having a very strong contract year. With three more hits in Saturday's loss, his average crossed the .300 plateau to .301. He could become the first Reds second baseman to bat .300 or better since Bret Boone batted .318 in the strike-shortened 1994 season. Phillips also entered the day with 18 home runs and 81 RBIs and was batting .335 since moving to the leadoff spot in the order on Aug. 17. Manager Dusty Baker often talks about the salary drive and rounding up numbers at the end of a season. Phillips has clearly listened. "He's one of the ones. Some of them are rounding down," Baker said. "That's what you don't want to do. Time is running out. You want to round up, not down. The kind of guys that round up are the fighting tough guys, you know what I mean?"