Brandon Phillips spent a decade wearing No. 4 for the Reds before the team dealt him away this winter in a transaction that was years in the making. While Cincinnati had been trying to move Phillips since 2013—very logically, as they have no shortage of middle infield prospects and he’s in his mid-thirties—he’d been using his no-trade protection to reject every deal they tried to make. He finally reneged on his stance with a trade to Atlanta in February, thanks to an injury to Braves second baseman Sean Rodriguez that guaranteed more playing time for Phillips, with Cincinnati agreeing to pay $13 million of the $14 million remaining on his contract. Everybody happy? Nope!
Phillips is in Cincinnati with the Braves for the first time since the trade, and he made it very clear that he’s not pleased that the team dared to give away his No. 4 to Scooter Gennett, who was selected off waivers in March.
“I still can’t believe that No. 4 is— someone is wearing my number,” he told local media yesterday. “I think that’s a slap in my face, too. But it is what it is. Man, people have their own opinions and I’m going to have mine.”
Gennett, for his part, isn’t happy with the situation either. He was quick to clarify today that he hadn’t asked for No. 4 and even tried to change numbers out of respect for Phillips. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“When I came over, I didn’t expect to get that number. It wasn’t something that I picked. But unfortunately, that was my only option, what I was told.... It’s kind of crazy. You think you have the ability to switch, but they make so many jerseys in the team shop to where I would have to pay for all those jerseys. I just don’t have that available cash to be able to do that.”
It is, indeed, in the collective bargaining agreement that players cannot switch number mid-season unless they buy out the “existing finished goods inventory.” Just not enough demand or respect for No. 4 for anyone’s liking, apparently.