The San Francisco Giants may be looking to bank on Chase.
While the team is doing their best to not panic with second baseman Joe Panik on the disabled list, the Giants had scouts in attendance over the weekend to watch the returning Chase Utley, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
Utley, 36, has spent most of his unproductive 2015 season on the shelf, nursing an ankle injury. Prior to returning from the DL this weekend, Utley was batting a career worst.179 with just four HR and 25 RBI. But over the weekend series against the San Diego Padres, Utley showed flashes of his former elite self, going 4-for-10, hitting three doubles and driving in two runs in the process.
That performance brought Utley’s numbers on the season to a.189 BA with four HR and 27 RBI.
However, Utley’s inability to remain healthy is not just isolated to 2015. A key component in the Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series championship, Utley has eclipsed the 150-game plateau just twice since 2009. He also has not hit more than 18 HR in a season since 2009.
The Phillies have not been a World Series-contending team since their rotation consisted of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Also, despite being the hottest team since the All-Star break with a 15-3 record, they sit in last place in the National League East.
In fact, Utley let the world know in Spring Training that he’d be open to a trade scenario, a surprising change of heart from a player who seemed intent on staying with the same team he’s spent his entire career with.
He maintained that stance in speaking to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com this weekend.
“Like I’ve said all along, I would be more than happy to listen to them. I do love Philadelphia. I’ve had a great time playing here, but out of respect for them, I would definitely listen to them.”
As Salisbury adds, the Giants’ may have interest in Utley just for his veteran status and leadership capabilities. With his playoff experience and signs of life with the bat, Utley could help the Giants’ offense as they contend for a playoff spot this year. Also, the aforementioned Joe Panik is due to return at some point.
The 24-year-old Panik is dealing with lower back inflammation. The Yonkers, New York native is having a tremendous season, batting.309 with 7 HR and 35 RBI. Therefore, despite Utley’s prior success, he would not be an upgrade over Panik.
Also, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro made it clear to several reporters, including Ryan Lawrence, that when Utley returned, Cesar Hernandez would remain the Phillies’ primary option at second base, adding fuel to the Utley trade rumors fire.
“Not for me, he’s not. Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman.”
Another reason why Utley waiving his no-trade clause makes sense is proximity. As Salisbury mentions, Utley and his family reside in the Bay Area during the offseason, so being close to family would likely be enticing, to say the least.
If the Giants do pursue Utley in an August waiver-wire trade, they would have some competition. Teams such as the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, and New York Yankees have been mentioned as potential destinations.
In addition to his encouraging weekend, Utley gave a sterling prognosis on how he felt being back on the field after a six-week stint on the DL.
“I feel better than I have in a while.”
While several people, perhaps even Utley expect a deal to eventually happen, the second baseman is not counting his eggs before they hatch. As it stands, he’s still wearing Philly red and that is what is on his mind, as Utley tells Salisbury.
“I think that’s a little too far to look ahead. Our goal here is to get ready for Arizona.
[Image by Denis Poroy / Getty Images]