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Reds, Phillips come to terms on six-year deal

Reds, Phillips come to terms on six-year deal

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Reds, Phillips come to terms on six-year deal
CINCINNATI -- When first baseman Joey Votto was signed by the Reds to a mammoth 10-year, $225 million contract by the Reds, Brandon Phillips was concerned the writing was on the wall to end his tenure in Cincinnati.

"I thought I was gone," said Phillips, who was in the option year of his previous contract. "I really didn't think this was going to happen, ever."

Well, it certainly happened. On Tuesday, Phillips was grinning ear-to-ear knowing there was enough money around to keep him too. The All-Star and Gold Glove second baseman was extended with a six-year contract worth $72.5 million that will keep him with the Reds through 2017.

The club re-worked the $12.5 million option Phillips was playing under this season into the new deal.

"I'm not going to lie to you. This is probably the first time I've ever been nervous," Phillips said during his news conference on Tuesday afternoon. "I cried about this. This is where I wanted to be."

A two-time National League All-Star, Phillips has won three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award over the past four seasons for the Reds. In 2011, he batted .300 with 18 home runs and 82 RBIs in 150 games. He led all NL second basemen in hitting, on-base percentage, runs, hits and doubles while ranking second in RBIs and slugging percentage.

Although Phillips was not in Tuesday's lineup vs. St. Louis because of a left hamstring, he's been durable. The 30-year-old has played at least 150 games in four of his previous six seasons in Cincinnati.

As valuable as Phillips has been on the field for the Reds, it was clear that his off-the-field charitable endeavors and charisma meant a great deal to the team's ownership and front office. Phillips has been a big contributor to the Reds Community Fund and has never turned down invitation to travel on the club's winter caravan tour and other events.

"Brandon is one of the great second basemen in baseball," Reds CEO Bob Castellini said. "He's also fantastic off the field. He represents the franchise with a big smile all the time. He really relates to the fans and vice versa."

Nevertheless, getting this contract done proved to be a long and drawn-out saga. Phillips was vocal as early as Spring Training 2011 about wanting an extension. His rhetoric only escalated into the season before talks between general manager Walt Jocketty and Phillips' agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, began in earnest in September and dragged through the winter and Spring Training 2012.

A major sticking point in negotiations proved to be the desire for a sixth year in the deal. When the new contract is over, Phillips will be 36 years old. The mid-30s is a difficult age for a middle infielder to get another lucrative long-term deal. Phillips now has the security and stability he wanted.

"It was a complicated deal that took a great deal of time trying to get completed," Jocketty said. "We kind of knew what the market was. I think we had a certain number of years in mind that we were going to do the deal. We realized we'd probably have to extend another year and that's what we did. We were able to get the deal done rather quickly after that."

Phillips could have become a first-time free agent after this season had he not signed the extension.

"The thing is I wanted to stay here in Cincinnati," Phillips said. "I told Walt. I told Bob that this is the place I wanted to be. I love it here. I even talked to my agents, 'can you all please, please just make it happen.' I really didn't want to be a free agent, regardless of what the other guys were getting. I just wanted to be in the same area."

Ironically, another second base also received a similarly large extension on Tuesday when Ian Kinsler signed a five-year, $75 million contract with an option for a sixth year.

Besides Phillips and Votto, the Reds also have right fielder Jay Bruce, pitchers Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall locked up under long-term contracts. Several young players, like center fielder Drew Stubbs, shortstop Zack Cozart and catcher Devin Mesoraco, are under club control for several more years.

"Along with all the young talent we have on our Major League roster and our deep farm system, we can build the Cincinnati Reds into a winning franchise for many years to come," Jocketty said.

Phillips is the longest tenured Reds position player, and second longest behind Bronson Arroyo overall. Once a top prospect of the Indians, he was discarded and came to the Reds in an April 2006 trade for Minor League pitcher Jeff Stevens. On Sunday, Phillips became the 28th player in club history to record 1,000 hits on Sunday vs. the Marlins.

"When I saw it happened, I said 'mom, I finally made it,'" Phillips said. "It's a great day for me. It just shows all of the hard work I went through. I got designated for assignment when I was with the Indians. I came over here with the Reds and they gave me a second chance to go out there and use my talents and show people I could really play this game. I just took off with it. I've come a long way."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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