Updates from Sunday, July 20
The Phillies are in listen mode on Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels, but Utley and Rollins have full no-trade rights and Hamels is more likely to stay as a building block.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe previously reported the likelihood of Utley being traded this Summer:
Right now it doesn’t appear that Utley is going anywhere because he can invoke his 10-5 rights and it looks as if he wants to remain in Philadelphia. But there’s time. And it hasn’t stopped teams such as the Blue Jays and Giants from taking their best shot, and they likely will through the end of the month.
Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is gearing up for the All-Star Game. Even though he's having a stellar season as the only All-Star from the only club he's played for in his MLB career, Utley may be susceptible to a trade.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, Philadelphia is mulling an overhaul that could include sending Utley, 35, out of town in favor of more youth and developmental players:
The Phillies, who are operating under the organizational mantra of 'we’ve got to get younger,' would rather build around [Cole] Hamels than deal him, but if they do they can’t reap the rewards of the likely three good young players they’d get in return. Their longtime shortstop/second base combination of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley aren’t willing to move anywhere. Both could probably net some minor league depth, particularly Utley, who is coveted.
The outside interest in Utley seems to be driving the Phillies' consideration to trade him more than anything. Even at this advanced stage of his career, he is still producing well enough to be an All-Star starter. Utley is batting .293 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 2014.
That could be attractive enough to entice a true World Series contender to sacrifice assets in exchange for a shot at the Commissioner's Trophy this autumn. Since Utley already won a World Series in Philadelphia in 2008, he has championship experience and would have a more realistic shot to win a second Fall Classic elsewhere.
But Utley said he wants to remain with the Phillies, per a Monday report by Philly.com's Ryan Lawrence:
I haven’t ever envisioned leaving Philadelphia, honestly. I feel like I’m wanted in Philly. I feel like the fans appreciate the way I play. I feel like the front office appreciates the way I play. And I appreciate their support over the years. I don’t plan on going anywhere, but, again, if someone comes up to me and says you’re no longer wanted in Philly, then I’ll have to change my tune.
Although his contract is just two years guaranteed, there are vesting options based on certain incentives that could see Utley play out four additional seasons with the organization. Utley also has a full no-trade clause as part of the deal, which will make it more difficult for the Phillies to move him.
Utley is also immensely popular, as Calkins Media's Kevin Cooney can attest to:
I learned one thing today: if u dare say that Chase Utley made a mistake in a game story, you will get emails saying you are an idiot.— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) July 14, 2014
Should the Phillies trade Chase Utley?
Based on the direction Philadelphia is headed, though, even the previous, apparent long-term commitment to see Utley never wear another uniform may run its course prematurely.
The Phillies are languishing in last place in the National League East. Barring an unforeseen turnaround, not even Utley's best efforts are likely to get them back into the postseason chase. One problem is that Philadelphia would lose a big bat in its already struggling lineup, which is 25th in runs scored this season.
Then there are the sentimental implications of sending Utley packing. The beloved ballplayer would be missed by Phillies fans, and it would be difficult to sell the new direction of the team—unless Philadelphia gets absolutely enormous compensation in return.
Utley's recent reassurance suggests that he is staying put, but this rumor will persist until the non-waiver MLB trade deadline arrives and passes on July 31.