Ever since the revocable waiver period began in early August, there has been one name whom has drawn most of the league’s attention and that is Chase Utley. Despite early season struggles which saw him hitting at a clip of just .179 and a DL stint, Utley seems to be the biggest name expected to be traded during this time.
But is that truly a realistic idea and more importantly, does Utley really want to be traded?
It is clear that the Philadelphia Phillies would like to move Utley in a continued effort to get younger and to maximize playing time for guys like Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis, who could see a move back to second once J.P. Crawford is ready to debut. However, just because they want to see Utley find a new home, doesn’t mean it will happen.
Utley has said on numerous occasions that he loves Philadelphia and that he wants to stay here. Luckily for him, he has the power to make that happen and given recent trade demands, it seems he might be doing just that.
For starters, Utley has a full 29-team no trade clause due to his ten-and-five rights, acquired as a result of accruing 10 years MLB service time, five of which have been with the same team. So right off the bat, excuse my pun, Utley can veto any deal he chooses and he has made it clear he will do so if certain demands are not met.
One of the obstacles teams will have to deal with in trading for Utley is the ability to offer the 36-year-old regular playing time. Utley has said that unless he can be assured of this, he will take full advantage of his veto and turn down any deal.
Before this, it seemed the San Francisco Giants, who have engaged with the Phillies in trade talks for Utley as recently as a few days ago, were the favorites. However, it does not seem San Francisco wants or would be able to meet Utley’s playing time demand. Doing so would involve displacing the 24-year-old Joe Panik, who is hitting .309 in this, his second year in the league, and who is due off of the DL before the end of the month. Utley likely would only fit into San Francisco’s short term plans and upon Panik’s return would likely end up on the bench in a part-time role.
The Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros have also emerged as having potential interest in Utley and they may have more leverage to make a deal than the Giants. Both teams could slot Utley into a regular role as a DH or first baseman. However, the Angels do lack roster flexibility and it’s unsure if Utley’s regular playing time assurance would extend to being a DH.
That leaves the Chicago Cubs, who’s own situation favors a platoon more than being able to give Utley a regular spot, and the New York Yankees, who could end up offering Utley the best option.
The Yankees have struggled to find consistent production from second base this season as Stephen Drew has only been slightly better than Utley with a .192 average. While Utley’s value hasn’t exactly been top notch, he does offer something Drew doesn’t and that’s postseason pedigree. Utley has 25 RBI and 43 hits in his 46 playoff games. Sure, he is no Mr. October, but he has been a consistent contributor and could be someone the Yankees look to in their quest to return to the World Series.
It is unclear where Utley will land if it is anywhere at all. He has all of the power and will be running the negotiations. His demands aren’t unreasonable … well, maybe they are considering he is 36 with a set of bad knees, but they are his to make nonetheless. So while Utley may have been sincere about hearing trade offers if they were for the good of the team, intentionally or not, he may be sabotaging a deal by asking for too much.
Only time will tell if Utley sticks to his demands or if he softens. The five teams who have shown interest also offer a reasonable chance for Utley to make the playoffs, so maybe that concept will be convincing enough. Otherwise, it is not out of the realm of possibility to imagine Utley will still be in Philly for the rest of the season.