In the end, the town and fans won out over the money.
On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Reds signed second baseman Brandon Phillips to a six-year, $72.5 million contract extension, which will keep Phillips in the Queen City through the 2017 season and will make him the first second baseman guaranteed to earn at least $12 million in a season at age 36.
Not bad for a guy who the Reds acquired for a Player to be Named Later. It’s like layaway for baseball players.
The Phillips deal is fairly similar to the one agreed to earlier the same day by Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler for five years and $82 million. Both contracts run through 2017, with Phillips' deal replacing his current one-year team option for 2012, whereas Kinsler's contract kicks in after the 2012 season.
Phillips obviously knew what the Kinsler deal was going to be before signing his own and what that meant in terms of standards. Kinsler was able to get a little more in terms of overall dollars because he is a year younger and has been a key player on two straight AL pennant winners. But beyond money, Phillips also knew he wanted to stay in Cincinnati and this was the best deal he was going to get from them. Phillips probably could have gotten more had he tested the free-agent waters when he would have been the best second baseman on the market, but the Cincinnati community was too important to him; the people mattered.
Phillips is represented by Seth and Sam Levinson of ACES Sports Management, which flies under the radar relative to more high-profile agents. But for 25 years, ACES quietly has been one of the leaders in the industry. The agency got its start with Keith Miller, who was once a top prospect of the Mets and entrusted his career to the Levinson brothers. They have been together ever since. Miller eventually made the transition from player to agent and became one of the pillars of the company. He’s helped the Levinsons recruit clients, and being a former player helps significantly in that regard. You may not have heard of ACES, but it represents many of baseball’s best players of late, including Phillips, David Wright, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Nelson Cruz, Scott Rolen and Jorge Posada, among others.