Chase Utley Rumors

NL East Notes: Utley, Brown, Saltalamacchia, Braves

Much has been made of trade rumors surrounding Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon over the course of the winter, but Chase Utley‘s name has rarely come up due to the veteran’s 10-and-5 rights that allow him to block trades. However, Utley told reporters today, including Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News, that he’d consider any trade scenario brought to him by GM Ruben Amaro (Twitter link). However, Utley doesn’t sound like a man with an urge to get out of a Phillies uniform. “I want nothing more than to play for this organization as long as I can,” he told the media.

More on the Phillies and the NL East…

  • Domonic Brown tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that he’s not sure exactly what the Phillies have in store for him, but he consider’s last year’s struggles a learning experience and believes he can post better numbers. Brown wouldn’t comment on whether or not he was more comfortable playing right field now that Marlon Byrd has been traded to the Reds. As Zolecki notes, another poor showing from Brown could very well mean that the team will search elsewhere for corner outfielders in the future.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia hasn’t looked at defensive numbers from 2014, he tells Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel, because he already knows he didn’t perform up to his expectations. Both Saltalamacchia and manager Marlins Mike Redmond spoke about how the catcher can improve in the second year of a three-year, $21MM pact with Miami. As Rodriguez points out, Saltalamacchia has graded out well in terms of pitch-framing before but ranked as the league’s worst framer in 2014, according to Baseball Prospectus.
  • Though the Braves are hopeful that right-hander Michael Foltynewicz, who was acquired in the Evan Gattis trade, is a starter in the long-term, the team hasn’t ruled out opening the year with him in the bullpen, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Foltynewicz instantly became one of the Braves’ best young arms in that trade, and using his 100mph fastball in the bullpen to get him acclimated to the Majors while going with a veteran such as Eric Stults in the fifth spot of the rotation may have some merit in the team’s eyes.
  • Speaking more in depth on those trades, president of baseball operations John Hart tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien that he doesn’t consider the Braves‘ offseason moves to be a full-on rebuild. Rather, according to Hart, the team tried to walk a “parallel path” in which Major League pieces were subtracted to shore up the farm system while other MLB pieces were brought in to help the 2015 team. The Braves’ core players appear to be on board with the moves, Hart adds, saying he’s received “nothing but positive (feedback)” from them.

Salisbury’s Latest: Gillick, Sandberg, Utley

While new Phillies president Pat Gillick only figures to occupy that role for a year or so — the 77-year-old has expressed no interest in filling the position long-term — his brief tenure could define the next generation for the team, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes.

As Salisbury notes, Gillick has already signed off on an organizational rebuild and the decision to replace longtime scouting director Marti Wolever. Now, Gillick will be tasked with overseeing any structural changes to the Phillies’ front office, including the decision as to who will replace him as the club’s president. Should the team make a change at GM, a new president would likely make that call.

Additionally, Gillick’s successor would oversee any changes made in the dugout. Ryne Sandberg didn’t distinguish himself with his leadership in 2014, Salisbury writes, and some within the organization question whether he’s the “right guy” to oversee the rebuild. Sandberg will be afforded more time to prove himself, but Gillick will be keeping a watchful eye on his skipper as he enters the second season of a three-year contract.

Also of note in the article, Salisbury hears that teams that have expressed interest in Chase Utley this winter have been informed that he is not interested in waiving his 10-and-5 rights, which grant him the ability to veto a potential trade to any club.

The Dodgers and Phillies reportedly had brief discussions regarding Utley and the Winter Meetings prior to the team’s acquisition of Howie Kendrick, but shortly thereafter, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated to reporters that Utley’s desire was to remain in Philadelphia. Utley himself has said as much in the past, but some have speculated that he might eventually warm to the idea of a trade as the Phillies’ rebuild wore on. That apparently has not been the case even after trading Antonio Bastardo, Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd.

Utley, 36, batted .270/.339/.407 in 664 plate appearances last season — his highest total since the 2009 season. He’ll earn $15MM in 2015 — he triggered a $5MM salary increase by avoiding the disabled list — and has three vesting options at the same price on his contract, the first of which will trigger if he reaches 500 plate appearances this coming season.


NL Notes: Friedman, Utley, Turner, Gattis, Kang, Furcal

Discussing his wide-ranging moves since taking over as the Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman said today that he sees the club as a “highly functional baseball team, instead of a collection of talent.” As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports, Friedman says the club will remain “open-minded” about dealing away from its stock of outfielders.

  • Looking ahead after the Jimmy Rollins trade, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team will continue to try to “get younger and more athletic,” as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. In addition to discussing various trade scenarios, the Phils have “had some dialogue with some free agents to try to increase some of our depth pitching-wise,” said Amaro. As for Chase Utley, though, Amaro said he has not had any discussions with Rollins’s long-time double-play partner about a change of scenery. “I haven’t had enough of a discussion with Chase,”  said Amaro. “The only discussions I’ve had with Chase and his agent about any of that is that Chase wants to be in Philadelphia.” While Amaro did not close the door on a deal, neither did he indicate it was particularly likely. He concluded: “[Utley] has no desire to go anywhere. … [H]e wants to honor his contract and that’s how we have to perceive it.”
  • The agent for reportedly soon-to-be Nationals shortstop prospect Trea Turner, Jeff Berry of CAA, expressed his frustration with the fact that Turner will be required to stay in the Padres system for six months until he is technically eligible to be named as the PTBNL in the recent three-team swap, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. Expressing concern with Turner playing in an organization that lacks a direct interest in his future well-being, Berry said that he “will vigorously pursue all available courses of action to remedy this situation,” up to and potentially including the filing of a grievance action.
  • The Braves are still listening on Evan Gattis, but expect to deploy him in left field unless a big offer comes through the door, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
  • The Mets did not place a bid on Jung-ho Kang, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted earlier today. That would, of course, appear to eliminate the Mets as the possible mystery team that has won the posting.
  • The Phillies are taking a look at veteran middle infielder Rafael Furcal as he plays in the Venezuelan winter league, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Furcal signed last year with the Marlins, but was never really able to get healthy. He could potentially fill a hole for the Phils at short.


Phillies Notes: Wood, Utley, Gonzalez

While we wait to learn about the finalization of the deal sending Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, let’s check in on the latest out of Philadelphia:

  • The Phillies have asked the Cubs about lefty Travis Wood, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports in a broader piece about the Cubs. Philadelphia could be a match for displaced starting backstop Welington Castillo, Wittenmyer also mentions. It seems to me that Philadelphia would probably look to move Carlos Ruiz if it added a player such as Castillo, though that is pure speculation on my part and may not be a necessity.
  • Connecting the dots on the Phillies and second baseman Chase Utley, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders whether the veteran might okay a trade now that the club has begun to follow up on its public declaration of a pushed-back contention timeline. Gelb recalls that Utley — who has full no-trade protection — said at last year’s All-Star game that he was “told we were going to continue to try to contend” before he inked his extension. Ultimately, Gelb calls a deal unlikely but possible, explaining several barriers including the Phillies’ disinclination to undergo a full teardown.
  • The Phillies seem inclined to give Miguel Gonzalez a chance to build up as a starter next spring, Gelb also reports. Though he is far from a sure thing to join the rotation, it will be interesting to see to what extent the team’s offseason plans are impacted at all by the possibility. As things stand, it would seem that the Phils will need to add at least one starter to the books for 2015, all the more so if Cole Hamels is traded.

Dodgers, Phillies Discussed Chase Utley

While negotiating the Jimmy Rollins trade, the Dodgers and Phillies also discussed Chase Utley, Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports (Twitter link).  As Brown notes, L.A. could now have a more pressing need for a second baseman with Dee Gordon on his way to the Marlins.

Utley has full trade protection as a 10-and-5 veteran (like Rollins) and he has been steadfast in saying that he wants to finish his career in Philadelphia.  That said, it’s fair to speculate if Utley would be interested in playing alongside his longtime double-play partner Rollins for a contending team.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told reporters (including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki) today that he had received “a lot” of interest in both Utley and Rollins and that he hasn’t talked to Utley today.


NL East Notes: Mets, Braves, Zimmermann

The Mets and Mariners could be trade partners on a deal that would send a young shortstop to Citi Field, multiple sources tell ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin.  Seattle has a pair of young middle infield options in Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, and both could be expendable should the M’s acquire a more proven veteran to play shortstop — for instance, the Mariners reportedly have a strong interest in Hanley Ramirez.  Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links) would “be surprised” if the Braves don’t trade Evan Gattis or an outfielder in exchange for “a good/very good young starting pitcher in the next several weeks.”  The Braves are known to be looking to add pitching given Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy‘s injury situations and the fact that Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang are free agents.
  • Despite recent rumors, it is very unlikely that the Nationals would trade Jordan Zimmermann, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman writes.  Nats GM Mike Rizzo would need a massive offer to even consider moving Zimmermann, as while the righty is only under contract for one more season, losing him would be a blow to a Nats team that wants to win a World Series in 2015.
  • Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have consistently said they want to remain lifetime Phillies and aren’t willing to waive their 10-and-5 rights to accommodate a trade, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has spoken to both players about the club’s rebuilding plans, and Lawrence wonders if either Rollins or Utley would be more open being dealt now that the Phils are openly planning for the future.
  • Also from Lawrence, he lists the Reds, Cardinals and Tigers atop a list of 15 teams who he sees as possible trade fits for the PhilliesMarlon Byrd.  Last week, we heard that Byrd was drawing a lot of interest on the trade market.

Blue Jays Notes: Martin, Kawasaki, Phillies

The Blue Jays are in on several top free agents as the offseason kicks off.  They’ll meet with Pablo Sandoval‘s agent Gustavo Vasquez today, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.  Reps for Victor Martinez spoke to the Jays recently, and there’s reportedly a meeting on the books with Russell Martin‘s agent as well.  Further details on Canada’s team…

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos preached flexibility yesterday.  According to Davidi, Anthopoulos said, “We’re going to try to take the best player available, and we’re not locked into one thing, like we need a defender at first base, we need a pure DH. It depends on what becomes available to us.”  Edwin Encarnacion can be deployed at first base or DH, while third base could be opened up by using Brett Lawrie at second.
  • Martin, a Canada native, turned down the Blue Jays before the 2010 season because the Yankees offered more playing time behind the plate, according to Davidi.  Davidi feels that of all the Blue Jays rumors, Martin may be the one with the most substance.
  • The Jays are looking at Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar in center field next year, barring a trade.
  • Infielder Munenori Kawasaki is leaning toward a return to Japan, but Davidi says he might be swayed by a Major League contract.
  • The Jays called the Phillies about Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Antonio Bastardo, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Gattis, Marlins

The Phillies are expected to add depth this offseason in the hopes that increased rest will help the production of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Marlon Byrd, writes Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Both manager Ryne Sandberg and interim team president Pat Gillick have hinted that more rest could help the performance of their elder statesmen. The team has received almost no production this month from it’s aging core. The club is also eager to add younger players.

  • Utley is disappointed with his year, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. He also seems to imply that the daily grind of the season is to blame for the club’s disappointing finish. He points to full seasons from Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and an elite bullpen as reasons for optimism in 2015. On the subject of a Hamels trade, he’s firmly against the idea.
  • Today might be Evan Gattis‘ last game with the Atlanta Braves, says David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Christian Bethancourt is viewed as the catcher of the future in Atlanta and appears ready for regular work. Since Gattis is not yet arbitration eligible, the Braves could keep him to split time with Bethancourt and serve as a cheap outfielder. Any outfield with Gattis would be a defensive liability since either Justin Upton or Jason Heyward would need to man center field. Gattis is thought to fit best with AL clubs.
  • The Marlins have added two experienced scouts in Dominic Viola and David Keller, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Since the front office was reorganized following the 2013 season, the club has focused on adding experience to its scouting department. Those moves helped to shape two midseason trades which netted Bryan Morris, Jarred Cosart, and Enrique Hernandez.

NL East Notes: Soriano, Utley, Kendrick, Eveland

Today is the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled BannerMLB.com’s Doug Miller chronicles the link between our country’s national anthem and its national pastime from the first time it was sung before a baseball game (May 15, 1862) to the great and not-so-great renditions. From the national anthem to the National League East, here are today’s notes from the division:

  • Rafael Soriano is making progress after working on his mechanics, but there is no timetable to reinstall him as the Nationals‘ closer, according to James Wagner of the Washington PostMLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted recently Soriano’s $14MM club option for 2015 will not vest and the Nationals are all but certain to decline the option making him an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won’t speak ill of Ryan Howard or suggest a trade would make sense, but he admits a move to first base could be beneficial for Chase Utley, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I think playing first base would eliminate a little wear and tear at that position,” Sandberg said. “Whether that’s a consideration or not has yet to be seen.” Gelb suggests a plan for 2015 where Utley is slated to play about 130 games with 100 of them at first base.
  • Kyle Kendrick isn’t sure if he made his final home start in a Phillies‘ uniform last night, but it sounds like he’d like to stay put in Philadelphia, if possible. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. But if I’m somewhere else, I’ll miss it,” Kendrick told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
  • The Mets have shut down left-hander Dana Eveland for the remainder of the season because of elbow inflammation, reports MLB.com’s Tim Healey. The 30-year-old, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, has had a career year with the Mets posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 30 relief outings (27 1/3 innings).

Quick Hits: Diamondbacks, Utley, Rodon

The fate of Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson will likely be decided by the next GM, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Five candidates have already been confirmed and Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa expects to personally interview about ten before narrowing the list. La Russa “tried to put together a list that has a nice cross-section of talents.” It will be interesting to see which skill set Arizona chooses to complement La Russa.

  • Also from Piecoro’s piece, the Diamondbacks hope to retain former GM Kevin Towers to oversee their scouting department. La Russa wishes to bolster both facets of the organization. He mentioned the possibility of hiring either an entry level or established analyst.
  • Much has been made of the Phillies aging roster, although Chase Utley has done his part to contribute. Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders how long Utley can withstand the daily grind of the season. The 35-year-old has contributed a fine season including a .277/.346/.419 line. With Utley possibly under contract through 2018 (he has three vesting options), his presence could be an important stabilizing component of the club’s rebuilding effort.
  • Many speculated that the White Sox would call up first round draft pick Carlos Rodon this September, but the club decided to forego promoting the youngster. Chicago pitching coordinator Curt Hasler says Rodon has all the stuff necessary to succeed, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Hasler cites a plus fastball, slider, and change. Rodon does need to work on his command, as evidenced by his 4.7 BB/9 in 24 and 2/3 minor league innings.