In the article, Stark also discussed the rest of the Phillies’ trade pieces. Stark says the most league executives feel that high salaries will prevent Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee from being moved. Rollins also has his no-trade clause, and Lee’s injury has killed what would have been a high trade-value. Teams also appear unlikely to make a move for Jonathan Papelbon, who not only has a ridiculously high salary for a closer in 2014 (and 2015, for that matter), but also isn’t the greatest guy to bring into a clubhouse.
So who do teams want? One Chase Utley, who yes has a no-trade clause, but if his value is at the highest it has been since 2009, and you could bring back some prospects to help jump-start the next era of Phillies’ baseball, isn’t it at least worth asking Utley to waive it and considering offers?
Chase Utley? He’d be the best position player on this market. And with a reasonable contract (with a series of $15 million vesting one-year options, from 2016-18, based on health), he’d bring the best return. But he has to approve any deal. And multiple teams have told us the Phillies have acted highly unmotivated to deal him. “They’re not going to trade Utley,” said one exec, flatly. “That’s not happening.”
How exactly do you move towards the future, if you don’t consider moving one of the veterans on your team who actually has a reasonable trade-value?
Given the fact that the Phillies will still be hampered with some bad contracts, they shouldn’t even move Utley, one scout told Stark.
“So at this point,” said one of the execs quoted earlier, “they might as well just keep him and Utley and celebrate that they’re lifetime Phillies and tell their fans to just go out and see them play.”
Whoever ‘that executive’ is, they don’t have a very good concept of how this fanbase feels. While I think there is a population of the fanbase who would like to see Utley spend his whole career in Philly, a majority of the fanbase would move anyone on the team for the right price.
Another league executive said that the Phillies would like to basically try to win by doing a half-assed rebuild, because they wouldn’t follow the Astros model of completely bailing on the next few year to plan for a bright future, because they can’t ‘sell that to their fanbase’, even though a team across the street is doing that successfully. So instead of maybe pissing off some uneducated members of the fanbase, by doing whatever it takes to blow things up, let’s just stay mediocre at-best, fourth-place team for five more seasons, before finally realizing that it’s time to properly rebuild. Because why suck the next few years, load up on high draft picks, and try to actually turn your franchise around, when you have the option to remain a shitty irrelevant team for a few more years, and then do that whole process anyway? Get ready to watch the mid-2000’s Sixers at CBP for the next decade.
[Read Stark's full column here]