The Reds and Washington Nationals are in trade discussions concerning Brandon Phillips, according to Ken Rosenthal (Fox), citing major league sources.

Phillips is owed $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in ’17 in the final two years of a contract that he signed in April 2012. The market since has inflated, and it is standard for players who waive no-trade rights to receive an added benefit, generally through an extension or salary increase. The Nationals should be in a flexible position financially — they recently offered free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward $200 million over an undisclosed number of years, sources said.

Phillips, who turns 35 in June, had lost much of his production during 2013 and 2014, partly due to injuries. But last season, the Reds second baseman reset his value, at least as a singles hitter (.294/.328; ISO of .100) and defensive specialist. If he can stay healthy – a big IF for a player his age – Phillips could produce enough value to earn his salary of $27 million over the next two seasons. Moving Phillips would clear significant payroll for the Reds to spend on free agents. It would also create playing opportunity for Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez in the middle infield.

The Reds tried to trade Phillips in the 2013 offseason after his negative comments about owner Bob Castellini and profane outburst directed at reporter C. Trent Rosecrans. But the Reds failed to find a suitable trading partner and were unwilling to trade the popular player for little return.

In August 2014, Phillips qualified for full no-trade protection under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players with 10 years of major league service time, including five with their current team, earn that right. Phillips can refuse any trade the Reds might make, including one to the Nationals. On the one hand, he has deep roots in Cincinnati. But with the Reds entering a rebuilding phase, Phillips could choose to pursue the opportunity to play for a team in the postseason spotlight – especially one managed by his long-time skipper, Dusty Baker.

Landing in Washington would be an ironic twist for Phillips. He was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft and played three seasons in the Expos farms system. Phillips was dealt to Cleveland in June 2002, two years before his original franchise moved to Washington D.C. and became the Nationals. Phillips was traded to the Reds prior to the 2006 season.

Don’t expect a lot in return for Phillips. It’s remarkable enough that his remaining contract is viewed as reasonable. If the deal stays simple (no Aroldis Chapman), the best Reds fans can hope for in exchange is a decent (not top) prospect. The $27 million in payroll relief – to spend elsewhere – and more playing time for Suarez and Cozart are the real benefits.