A couple of weeks ago, Chase Utley‘s trade-value appeared to be skyrocketing. MLB Network’s Peter Gammons said that an MLB scout told him the National League would be decided by whether the Giants or Dodgers were able to acquire Utley. A few days after that, Joel Sherman of the New York Post called Utley ‘the prize’ of the trade-market, suggesting that up to four or five contenders could be seriously interested in Utley, leading you to think the Phillies could land a serious return for the greatest second-baseman in team history.
While I respect the opinions and insights of both Gammons and Sherman, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tends to be one of the more accurate baseball reporters across the country. He doesn’t think Utley’s value is going to be nearly as high as the other two do, and he says if he does get moved, it’s unlikely to be to the Giants.
A great fit would be Chase Utley, but there’s three issues: Would the Phillies want to deal him, would Utley waive his 10/5 rights, and would the Giants give up a bounty for him? It would seem the Giants’ sights would be somewhat lower.
Again, that’s just one perspective. At the same time, if the Giants don’t show serious interest, it kind of has a trickle-down effect on Utley’s entire market. The Dodgers don’t need a second-baseman by any means, but some felt that if they could acquire Utley, they could rearrange their infield by moving Dee Gordon or Hanley Ramirez to third-base. Then again, Justin Turner is doing a fine job for the Dodgers at third right now, and they still have Juan Uribe set to come back at some point this year, so getting Utley would just be an upgrade for the Dodgers. But, it seems unlikely they’d back the truck up and deal numerous top prospects for Utley, especially if there wasn’t a threat of him going to a divisional rival.
Then you look around at teams like the Cardinals and Yankees, who could be landing spots for Utley, but for those two already smart organizations, it’s unlikely they would give up a ton to get Utley in the first place. If there isn’t a ton of serious competition pushing them, then they aren’t going to bid against themselves to land Utley. That is, unless Ruben Amaro becomes their general-manager before the trade-deadline.
I don’t know if Utley will waive his no-trade clause, but if he’s willing to consider it, the Phillies need to be willing to look for a place to move him. And they have to remember that they aren’t moving perennial MVP candidate Chase Utley of the mid-to-late-2000′s, but rather a 35 year-old who is putting up All-Star production, just a few years removed from what were considered to be career-threatening knee problems. Teams aren’t going to magically forget about that because “he’s the man”.
At 35, Utley’s value isn’t going to be higher. And as much as I will always cherish Utley in a Phils’ uniform, what sense does it make holding onto him at this point? The Phillies aren’t going to compete this year, next year, or any time in the near future. So if you can move Utley to a place where he can compete for another title and then bring back a prospect with some potential, you can finally begin to move forward as an organization.
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