Report: Yankees inquired on Phillips

Reds 2B Brandon Phillips has already been the subject of trade rumors in the still-early off-season. On Tuesday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Yankees contacted the Reds about Phillips’ availability should free agent 2B Robinson Cano not return to New York.

Heyman also reported the initial price the Reds wanted was “way too steep.”

Phillips has four years and $50 million remaining on his six-year, $72 million deal with the Reds that was signed in April 2012, which makes moving him more difficult for Cincinnati. But big market teams like the Yankees would be able to take on such a contract with less issue. When you consider that Cano is reportedly seeking a $300 million contract, Phillips would be a relative bargain in the Bronx.

Last month, Reds GM Walt Jocketty maintained he wasn’t actively shopping Phillips but stopped short of guaranteeing the All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner would be with the team in 2014. Jocketty noted he was looking at all ways to improve his club.

Phillips, 32, batted .261 with 18 home runs and a career-high 103 RBIs. But his on-base percentage was .310 and slugging percentage was at .396 while he often struggled following a June 1 hit-by-pitch on his left forearm. He was also involved in a pair of incidents that embarrassed the Reds — an August cover story and interview with Cincinnati Magazine had Phillips complaining about how his contract negotiations were handled and he portrayed Jocketty and CEO Bob Castellini as liars. Phillips also verbally attacked a newspaper reporter in a moment that was caught on camera.

– Mark Sheldon

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