Chase Utley has been one of the most talked about potential trade candidates this year. In trading Cole Hamels and Jonathan Paplebon in July, the Phillies have finally started their rebuilding process, which has been a long time coming for a franchise that has not made the MLB playoffs since 2011. With the August 31 waiver trade deadline for players to be eligible for postseason play rapidly approaching, it appears as though Utley may not be moved after all.
Over the past week, Chase Utley has been linked to the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, and Houston Astros according to a report from the Inquisitr. While the six-time All-Star has hit exactly.500 (13 for 26) since returning from the disabled list, the 36-year-old is clearly on the downside of his career. For the season, he is hitting.213 with 5 home runs and 30 RBIs. While he played in 155 games in 2014, the most since 2009, injuries have slowed down his production and he has not hit 20 home runs once in the past six seasons.
According to Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports, Utley really seems to be the one holding up a potential deal. He not only has full no-trade rights, but also wishes to play for a contender in Southern California. That automatically rules out the Cubs, Yankees, and Astros. While the Giants are in Northern California and are viewed as a contender, Utley may prefer to stay in Philadelphia where he has played his entire 12-year career, as opposed to going to a destination that he really does not want to go to.
Despite Utley’s preference, Jon Heyman from CBS Sports still believes the Giants are in the mix, along with the Angels.
giants, then angels, still viewed as most likely destinations for utley, assuming phils icon leaves. http://t.co/C2pucxTMJH
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 16, 2015
He also reported the Angels were close to a deal in recent days, but the trade fell apart for unknown reasons. The Giants also were apparently close to a trade, but it fell apart because they could not guarantee the amount of playing time that Utley desires. Whether or not the Giants find guaranteed playing time for Utley and he warms up to the idea of living in the colder part of California remains to be seen.
Chase Utley is pretty much a rental player at this point and is owed $6 million for the rest of the season. He has a 2016 club option worth between $5 million and $11 million based on his performance and plate appearances the rest of the year, but with his age, injury history, and declining stats, teams are unlikely to want to pick it up. They would be responsible for paying his 2016 $2 million buyout if they do trade for him. If a deal does get done, the Phillies are either going to have to accept a lower ranked prospect than what they originally hoped for, or send more money to the prospective team to cover a part of the remaining 2015 salary and 2016 buyout.
Despite his age, Utley has the potential to be an extremely valuable left-handed bat off the bench for a contender during the post season. He has always been a streaky hitter, and this was shown nationally when he hit five home runs in the 2009 World Series.
Utley has stated numerous times in the past how much he loves Philadelphia and playing for the Phillies, so it appears as though he is not going to accept a trade unless it is the perfect situation for him. That means the right team, the right location, and the promise of playing time. Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro has been criticized many times in the past for holding onto aging and declining players too long. If he does not act quickly on Utley, he may end up getting nothing.
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