Chris Szagola/Associated Press
San Francisco Giants Get: 2B Chase Utley
Philadelphia Phillies Get: RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Chris Stratton, RHP Edwin Quirarte
The day before the 2014 MLB first-year player draft, Peter Gammons made an appearance on CSN Philly’s Philly Sports Talk. He cited an unnamed general manager who said that “he thought the National League would be decided by whether or not the [Los Angeles] Dodgers or the [San Francisco] Giants got Chase Utley.”
Well if that’s the case, who makes the play?
Well, the Giants are cruising with a 42-21 record going into play on Monday and have a 9.5-game lead on the Dodgers. Unfortunately, they are only getting a .178/.267/.319 slash line from second baseman Brandon Hicks and company, per splits over at Baseball-Reference. An addition like Utley could make them the class of MLB—if they’re not already.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have a second baseman in Dee Gordon who is performing at an All-Star level. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t add Utley just to keep him away from the Giants. And make no mistake, if the five-time All-Star is on the roster, manager Don Mattingly will surely find a spot for him in the lineup.
Seeing as how pitching prospects will likely determine who would be able to pull off a trade for someone like Utley, the Giants have to be the team. Via CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman, Gammons added:
In terms of Utley, again, to me, he is the model player, but a team like the Giants, every scout I've talked to tells me they might have the best pitching in Double A of any team in baseball. If you get three pitchers for Chase Utley out of that Giants organization, you have a chance to be -- two years from now -- restore that pitching to where it should be.
Using that as the launching point, a package comprised of right-handed pitchers Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton and Edwin Quirarte would prove quite attractive.
Crick (4-1, 3.46 ERA, 1.513 WHIP) would be the hardest sell to the fanbase in San Francisco. Not only is he the organization’s top prospect (No. 43 overall), but he is destined to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, featuring a fantastic fastball and a slider with potential, per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
Stratton, the only one not at Double-A, has been having a rough go of it this season at High-A, but he has a wealth of talent. Featuring a four-pitch mix, he projects well as a starter.
Quirarte (4-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.144 WHIP), on the other hand, can pitch in long-relief or be a late-inning specialist. More of a contact hurler, the 2008 fifth-round selection is just waiting for a chance to prove he belongs.
The price is steep for the Giants, but Utley, who has a .314/.371/.498 slash line this season, is a difference-maker. He could be the piece that keeps the surging offense moving forward. It is, after all, going to be hard to keep the momentum going at the plate with one spot in the batting order contributing next to nothing.
To be sure, trading Utley isn’t a forgone conclusion. He is rightfully revered in Philadelphia, and he would have to waive his no-trade rights for any deal to be made.