What I wrote on Wednesday still holds true. I would lean toward not getting Phillips, but it's a money thing. Since it looks like it is happening - here are the biggest questions in increasing order of importance.
How much are the Nats going to pay him?
Brandon Phillips is set to make 13 million next year, 14 the year after. This is probably more than he'll be worth but it's not a terrible overpay. However, some people are saying that to get Phillips to agree to this deal the pot has to be sweetened. The Nats would have to pay him more or extend him.
I don't buy it. I don't even want to take it to one of those mid-aisle scanners to see how much it is. The fact that he supposedly gave a hometown discount to the Reds, which spurs on a lot of the "have to give him more" talk, is his problem. It shouldn't be the Nats. In fact by "correcting" for the fact he'd have to move, he would essentially turn his contract into a huge bargain for the Reds and a bigger burden for the Nats. Why agree to that? Don't do it Nats. Open market today he's getting paid more than enough. Stick to those guns.
Who are the Nats giving up for him?
The talk is "several minor leaguers". Given that it's more than one I'm going to guess it doesn't include anyone you may care about. Of course that takes Giolito and Turner off the table, but also probably sweeps Cole, Difo, Fedde, Lopez, Voth and Robles into a napkin as well. Best I see included might be Drew Ward (20 but stalling) or one of their myriad of future back-up catchers.
The truth is though, outside of Turner, none of these guys are needed for 2016. With Exodus Part 2 coming up after this year, I care about making a run now more than anything so if they do give up one of those latter 6, whatever. I can deal with it.
Does he make the Nats better?
Yes. We discussed this the other day. His consistency assumes a better offensive season than you can expect from Espinosa and he's a very good fielder so you don't lose as much in that swap as you would for other replacements (see Murphy, Daniel). Anything that makes the team better is worthwhile. Technically you will lose a LHB when Turner comes up and replaces Espinosa (This is my expected Nats infield - Espinosa at SS until Turner gets called up mid-May) but Espinosa wasn't much of a lefty bat to begin with.
Also the secondary function of the trade - pushing Danny to the bench, gives the Nats a nice solid bench player.
How will he affect the Nats spending the rest of the offseason?
Ah - now here's the kicker. What is the Nats payroll? I've talked considerably that they may actually be around the amount they'd like to spend for the year already and they only have money to spend if they consider Papelbon and Storen gone with minimal salary absorbed. If that's the case then Phillips may eat a big chunk of the Nats payroll leaving them unable to say - deal for Cargo or even sign a Parra. If they don't put anything in for Papelbon/Storen then they might have a little money, say about 10 million, left to play with. If they expect to eat half of Papelbon/Storen then Phillips uses it all.
Phillips is a good player but only makes the Nats slightly better in 2016. If they Nats only have around 10-15 million to spend I think they could make a higher impact move. So really whether the Phillips move is good or not doesn't come down to him, it comes down to the salary the Nats are paying and the payroll the Lerners are willing to shell out for 2016. If Phillips is essentially the last piece, because of some combination of his salary going up and the payroll going down, then it's a bad move. If he is just another cog and a closer or good OF bat is still on the horizon, then it's a good move. We can't know. But Rizzo must.