We are a few days into June, which means we have reached the point in the season where speculating which players might get traded prior to the MLB’s July 31st trade deadline, is perfectly acceptable. While we still are a week or two away from serious rumors surfacing, one of the most widely speculated about players thus far, has been Chase Utley.
Utley, who is batting .312 with an .888 OPS and a .376 OBP, is one of a few veteran members of the Phillies that is still producing at a high enough level and has a manageable enough contract that teams would be interested in him.
MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons was a guest on CSN Philly’s Philly Sports Talk yesterday afternoon, and said not only will there be interest in Utley’s services, but he could help to determine the fate of the National League.
“I spoke to an NL executive, who told me that the National League pennant will be determined by whether the Giants or Dodgers acquire Chase Utley.”
If Gammons would have said this last year, I wouldn’t have taken it very seriously. But given that Utley is having his best offensive season since 2009, it isn’t unreasonable to think that picking him up could be key to a team looking to make a run to the World Series, especially if it meant preventing another team in your own division from picking him up.
As far as Ruben Amaro’s seeming reluctance to move on from the 2008 core, Utley specifically, Gammons seemed understanding of not wanting to move a player like Utley, but also seems to live in reality, unlike Amaro.
— PSTonCSN (@PSTonCSN) June 4, 2014
For me, that point comes at about 7:00 every night, when I contemplate whether or not to turn my television to Comcast Sportsnet to watch the Phillies.
Part of making smart trades is realizing when a players’ value is high (Utley’s isn’t going to get higher than it is now) and capitalizing on that by getting the best return that you possibly can. I’m not sure exactly how much of a return that you will get for Utley, but because he doesn’t have a ridiculous contract, it might be more than you get for anyone else on the roster. If the Giants and Dodgers got seriously competitive in an effort to land Utley, that would only drive his value higher.
Utley does have 10 and 5 rights, which means he would have to approve any trade that the Phillies would make. I think because of his injury history, he is very aware of how short your time in baseball can be, so I’d find it hard to think that he would pass on a chance to join another pennant race. Being a California native would make it even harder to pass on a chance to pursue a second World title with the Giants or Dodgers (who again, we are just speculating to have interest).