Reds, Phillips agree to extension

CINCINNATI - First Joey Votto.

Now, it's Brandon Phillips' turn.

The All-Star second baseman and reigning NL Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner has agreed to a six-year, $72.5 million extension to keep him in a Cincinnati Reds uniform through 2017.

The Reds confirmed the deal Tuesday afternoon and held a news conference to announce the extension.

"In all my years of baseball none work any harder and exert more energy than Brandon. He works hard. You can count on him," said manager Dusty Baker.

"I'm not going to lie. This is probably the first time I've ever been nervous. I cried about this," said Phillips.

"Brandon has been an integral part of our organization, both on and off the field, as long as any player in our clubhouse," Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty said. "He has made himself one of the best all-around players in the game. We think we can build a contending team around the players we have here."

"It's nice to have six more years in the Queen City," Phillips told Lance McAlister on 700 WLW before Tuesday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He said it's great to be able to play in the same city as Barry Larkin, his favorite player.

Phillips said the "fans are the ones who make me play better." He told McAlister he enjoys the interactions with the fans and said it's "nice to put smiles on kids' faces."

Jocketty added that the team's goal is to build around its premiere players on the everyday side and the pitching side to make sure the Reds are a contending club for years to come. The Reds have already locked up Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto and Sean Marshall.

Jocketty said signing Phillips and keeping its core players intact was a priority.

"It's nice for myself to be one of those core players," Phillips told McAlister.

"Talent wise, we're getting deeper and deeper. That's what it's going to take in a small market," said "It's not easy. A lot of things have to go right for you,"Jocketty said.

President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini said last week he was very proud that six of the Reds' nine Opening Day starters came through the team's system.

"We're excited to be able to keep Brandon here for five more years. He is an important part of our team. His talents on the field, his efforts in the community and his interaction with our fans make him one of the more recognizable and valued members of our organization," Castellini said Tuesday.

Former Reds General Manager Jim Bowden, who currently works for ESPN, first reported the deal earlier Tuesday afternoon.

Like he often does, Phillips took to Twitter on Tuesday to show his appreciation for the fans and the city. "GOOD DAY #Cincinnati... Just got to say, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!! Looks like y'all might have to deal w/ me a little bit longer."

Phillips, who turns 31 in June, was scheduled to become a free agent after this season which will pay him $12.5 million. The new deal adds salaries of $10 million for next year, $11 million in 2014, $12 million in 2015, $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in 2017, according to the Associated Press.

He finished 2011 with a .300 average, 18 home runs and 82 RBIs and became the first Reds second baseman ever to win a Silver Slugger. He was also rated by field managers as the best defensive second baseman in the NL.

According to Bowden, Phillips will become the only second baseman in baseball history to have earned at least $12 million at the age of 36.

The deal comes less than a week after the Reds signed Votto to a 12-year, $251 million deal that will keep the first baseman in Cincinnati through the 2023 season.

Many people felt the club would not be able to keep Phillips in Cincinnati after the Votto deal. However, Castellini said last week that Votto's contract would not affect the club's ability to sign Phillips to an extension.

Like any huge deal in sports, there will be skeptics. The Reds know it's a risk to pay players the type of money Phillips and Votto will make in the later years of their contracts. But, winning a World Series, which is the goal with everyone in the organization, will quiet those critics.

Phillips said "It's going to be real nice" to bring a championship to Cincinnati.

This is another example of Reds' ownership showing they are committed to keeping the best Reds players in Cincinnati. Now, it's up to fans to show they are committed.

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