In a piece yesterday evening, Jim Salisbury didn’t necessarily tell us who the Phillies were close to trading, but he at least narrowed down who they weren’t trading. He listed Domonic Brown, Cole Hamels, and yes, Chase Utley.
Best we can tell, there are only three players that can’t be had in trades –- Cole Hamels, Domonic Brown and Chase Utley. Hamels’ tough season is viewed by the organization as an aberration and the Phils want him to lead their pitching staff into the future. Brown has answered all challenges and become a young power bat in an organization that needs to add more of them. There was a time earlier this summer when the Phillies would have listened to offers for Utley, but it now appears both sides want to continue their relationship, and sources say they are discussing a contract extension.
Keeping Brown is a no-brainer. Cole Hamels is a guy who I personally would have traded last year, but trying to trade him now when his value is diminished because of a down year doesn’t make much sense. I have given my thoughts on Utley enough times at this point. I love Utley, but giving a 34 year-old with degenerative knees an extension doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Actually it makes zero sense when he has trade value and we have Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez waiting in the wings. But Ruben Amaro and the Phillies are too busy getting sentimental instead of doing their jobs.
As Jayson Stark said yesterday Cliff Lee can be had, but the price for anyone interested is going to be so high that Stark would be shocked if anything happens. And Salisbury echoes that sentiment.
As for Cliff Lee, nothing really has changed since the all-star break when we reported that the Phillies prefer to keep Lee and pair him with Hamels at the top of the 2014 rotation, but that preference could be bought off with a huge return of top prospects. In other words, a team can get Lee if they blow the Phillies away. If not, he stays.