Yesterday evening, I got on the Phillies after a Jayson Stark report seemed to suggest that the Phillies wouldn’t even consider moving second-baseman Chase Utley. I don’t necessarily feel stupid about saying that 24 hours later, because I think the Phillies made that decision on there own, but Ken Rosenthal made that a moot point in his latest article.
Second baseman Chase Utley, after telling club officials last July that he did not want to be traded, signed a two-year extension with three club options. Now, less than a year later, he’s going to reverse a course, waive his 10-and-5 rights and approve a deal?
Don’t count on it.
I can’t really fathom why a 35 year-old, who is still producing at an All-Star level, wouldn’t even want to consider a trade to a contender, but Rosenthal is right. If Utley didn’t want to be moved last Summer, chances are he isn’t going to change his mind this Summer. I still think that putting him in a position to actually approve a trade, rather than just bringing the idea up to him, isn’t a bad idea. If the chance to actually move to a contender is on the horizon from Utley, maybe that changes things.
I really don’t want to give the impression that am desperate to move on from Utley, because I’m not. Chase is one of the greatest Phillies that has ever lived, and he is probably having his best season since 2009. Even with that said, at age 35, the idea of keeping Utley four or five more years to finish his career seems quite flawed to me. Do we really think that in three or four years Utley is going to be putting up better numbers than the potential top prospects that the Phillies could get in return for him? And if the Phillies start to try to rebuild, isn’t having the production of a few players in three or four years, when it is possible you could return to contention, more important than having Utley produce for a team that is still five games under .500?
It would be one thing if Utley flat-out didn’t have any trade-value. That isn’t even close to the case. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman called Utley ‘the prize of the trade deadline’. The MLB Network’s Peter Gammons passed along that an NL Executive told him that ‘the pennant race could be decided by who lands Utley‘. And then after a brief respite, Jayson Stark reminded us of Utley’s value yesterday, saying that ‘he’d be the best position player on the market’. Yeah. There is value to be had on Utley, it’s a matter of whether the Phillies actually make any attempt to put him in a position where he would accept a trade.