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Chase Utley Rumors
Pirates ace Gerrit Cole has landed on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue, but the team doesn’t believe the shoulder has any structural damage, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. That could be great news for the Bucs, who will need Cole if they hope to make noise in the playoff race this summer. The injury, which came to light almost three years to the day after Cole was selected first overall in the 2011 draft, is a reminder of the uncertainty of drafting pitchers in a season that’s been full of such reminders. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The career trajectory of Tanner Roark of the Nationals is perhaps a more pleasant story about the uncertainty of pitching — the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore describes Roark as “a potential rotation piece that fell out of the sky.” The Rangers drafted Roark in the 25th round in 2008, then shipped him to Washington with another minor-leaguer for Cristian Guzman in 2010. Even in 2013, the Nationals used him as a reliever in Triple-A. But he pitched brilliantly down the stretch for the Nats in 2013 and has been nearly as good this season, posting a 2.91 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 as a key part of Washington’s rotation.
- Chase Utley of the Phillies tops the list of the best bats who might be available in trade this summer, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s unclear whether the Phillies will commit to trading veterans, but even if they do, some of them (like Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee) would be difficult to trade anyway. Utley, who is signed to a reasonable contract and is still very productive, is a different story. Utley has the right to veto any trade, however, since he has 10-and-5 rights, and the Phillies have shown no interest in trading Utley.
In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal wonders just how long the Royals can stand behind GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost given the team’s struggles to this point in the season. Moore called Yost a “consistent leader” when he spoke with Rosenthal and added that the team is only a hot streak or two away from a turnaround. Rosenthal writes that the entire team seems “too comfortable, waiting for a surge that might never come.” More from his column below…
- On the other hand, Rosenthal doesn’t feel it’d be justified for the Mets to fire manager Terry Collins. Collins hasn’t been afforded the same talent that Yost has, he opines, and his front office has made some questionable decisions behind him regarding the bullpen and the underperforming crop of free agents the team brought in. He notes the team’s sparse spending despite their market, adding that it seems unlikely that Bud Selig would ever confront owner Fred Wilpon, with whom he is close friends.
- Similarly, the Padres should hang onto skipper Bud Black, Rosenthal proclaims. Recent reports have indicated that he may be on the hot seat. Padres ownership too often has worried about alienating fans with personnel decisions, as they did when they neglected to trade Chase Headley after his 2012 season. Black is a highly regarded manager who has seen six of his pitchers hit the disabled list this season, though even Rosenthal admits that the offense’s follies have been virtually inexplicable.
- The Rangers‘ glut of middle infield depth could lead them to field trade offers for Elvis Andrus this summer. With Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas all representing possible starting-caliber infielders, Texas does appear to have a surplus. I, personally, would imagine that each of those players could hear his name circulating on the rumor mill in two months’ time.
- One agent who isn’t affiliated with J.J. Hardy or Derek Jeter suggested to Rosenthal recently that he thought the former would be the latter’s successor with the Yankees. Hardy has a low-maintenance personality, steady glove and experience in the AL East.
- As has been reported previously, the Astros tried to acquire Collin McHugh last summer when the Mets dealt him to the Rockies, but Rosenthal adds more light on the situation. The team’s scouting department felt McHugh was little more than a long reliever, but the team’s statistical analysts pushed hard for McHugh based on trends they’d seen dating all the way back to his minor league days in 2011. The Astros, of course, claimed McHugh off waivers from Colorado, and he’s cemented himself in their rotation. GM Jeff Luhnow said over the weekend he has no plans to trade McHugh or breakout lefty Dallas Keuchel.
- Though Kendrys Morales could be a perfect fit for the Mariners‘ offensive woes, rival executives say that the team is still showing the same payroll concerns that caused them to largely shut down spending after the signing of Robinson Cano this winter.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. called the possibility of trading Chase Utley a “moot point,” noting Utley’s no-trade protection and desire to remain in Philadelphia. Perhaps of greater interest (and perhaps to the dismay) of Phillies fans, is the following quote from Amaro: “I don’t know if we’ll completely ‘sell’ ever. We can revamp, but we can’t completely sell out. We have to have a contending team in 2015 or ’16 — or at least a competitive team.”
- In light of Prince Fielder‘s injury, the Rangers could pursue free agent Kendrys Morales, although they will not do so until after the draft, since that would require them to lose a pick. If they fall out of contention, they could trade Alex Rios or Joakim Soria, either of whom could become free agents if the Rangers don’t pick up their 2015 options. They could also consider dealing Elvis Andrus, given their depth of young middle infield talent.
- When the Cubs and Blue Jays discussed a Jeff Samardzija deal this offseason, the Cubs asked for Drew Hutchison plus either Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman, Rosenthal reports. Especially in retrospect, that would have been a steep price to pay — Hutchison has been terrific in the Jays’ rotation so far this year, and while Sanchez has struggled with walks at Double-A New Hampshire, Stroman continues to look like a top prospect. The Jays are not likely to pursue Samardzija again this summer.
- All signs indicate that the Phillies will not trade Chase Utley: Utley can veto any trade, he signed an extension last August, and GM Ruben Amaro tells Rosenthal that an Utley deal isn’t going to happen.
- The Astros are not interested in trading pitchers Dallas Keuchel or Collin McHugh, both 26-year-old pitchers who are having surprisingly strong seasons in Houston’s starting rotation.
- The Nationals could trade Ross Detwiler, a potential starter who’s currently in their bullpen. He’s currently earning $3MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility. (Detwiler is currently struggling with a 5.24 ERA with 13 strikeouts and 13 walks in 22 1/3 innings. That means the Nationals aren’t likely to get much for him.)
Let's take a look at the latest from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal in this week's edition of Full Count:
- The Diamondbacks were the runner-up among teams vying to acquire Bud Norris from the Astros. The Snakes planned to keep Norris in the rotation for the remainder of the season, then shift him to the bullpen through the end of his contract, Rosenthal says, noting the team's wealth of young starting pitching and contracts for relievers Heath Bell and J.J. Putz that will expire after 2014. However, the Orioles were able to offer Houston the superior compensation pick.
- Tim Lincecum is pushing his free agent stock up with his recent run of strong starts, but the Giants haven't initiated contract talks yet with the hurler. An executive cited by Rosenthal pegged a potential deal for Lincecum in the three-year range with a $13MM-14MM annual salary. Though that initially appears high considering the right hander's poor performance last year and at the beginning of this one, the qualifying offer the Giants are likely to extend will probably be in the same $13MM-14MM range.
- Though the White Sox weren't able to find a taker for Alex Rios' contract before the deadline, Nelson Cruz's suspension changed the thinking in the Rangers' front office, according to Rosenthal. Texas was previously asking for significant cash back in any trade, while the Pirates weren't even interested enough to discuss specific names, Rosenthal reports. However, the Sox will likely eventually get infielder Leury Garcia from their deal with the Rangers, which could give them the flexibility to trade either second baseman Gordon Beckham or shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
- The dearth of hitters reaching the open market could have made Chase Utley quite popular in free agency. Rosenthal cites the Dodgers, Athletics and Orioles as potential suitors. The two years and $27MM of guaranteed salary that Utley received from the Phillies is comparable to guarantees that David Ortiz, Torii Hunter and Carlos Beltran got in free agency, Rosenthal notes.
It has been a rather noteworthy day for the Phillies front office: the club announced its extension of Chase Utley, claimed Casper Wells on waivers, and saw Michael Young clear waivers. Let's look at a few links regarding the Fightin' Phils …
- Negotiations between the Phillies and Utley began in earnest a few weeks back, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia, after the club approached its star second baseman with trade interest it had received. When Utley told the team his preference was to stay, says Salisbury, the sides set out to make a deal happen.
- The deal that Utley signed will effectively come with full no-trade protection, Salisbury notes (also via Twitter), as Utley will obtain ten and five rights on August 22.
- Utley expects to remain satisfied with his decision to sign an extension before reaching free agency, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Sulia). "This is something that no matter what happens I'm not going to regret," said Utley. "I've talked to some guys that have played here and moved on to other organizations. The grass isn't always greener on the other side."
- With Utley pretty firmly entrenched as a Phillie-for-life, it remains to be seen what will happen to another stalwart from the club's 2007-2011 peak seasons. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, catcher Carlos Ruiz may have a guaranteed place in Philadelphia's history, but it is far less clear whether he will have a place on its roster over the coming seasons. For his part, the 34-year-old Ruiz says he hopes to remain with the only big league club he's every played for.
Chase Utley is the face of the Phillies franchise, and that's no longer in jeopardy of changing at the end of this year. The Phillies have officially announced a two-year extension for Utley that contains three vesting options. The contract is reportedly worth $27MM and could be worth as much as $75MM over five years if all of the options vest and Utley stays healthy.
Utley is guaranteed $15MM in 2014 and $10MM in 2015 and has a $2MM buyout on his first option. His 2015 salary will rise to $15MM if he spends no more than 15 days on the disabled list due to a specific knee condition. Each option is valued at $15MM and is triggered if Utley reaches 500 plate appearances in the previous season.
Should Utley fail to reach 500 plate appearances in any season from 2015-17, the following year's vesting option will become a club option worth between $5MM and $11MM. The specific value of those conditional club options would be based on the number of days he spent on the disabled list the previous season. The deal contains a full no-trade clause, though that is essentially a moot point because he will receive 10-and-5 rights later this month.
A fresh multi-year deal for the Phillies and the 34-year-old seemed unlikely just a few months ago as he suffered yet another setback with a strained oblique that kept him sidelined to start the season. He's bounced back, however, and has appeared in 84 of the club's 113 games.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said repeatedly in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline that he planned to hold on to all of the club's veterans, but that didn't stop the baseball world from speculating on potential deals for players, including Utley. The second baseman figured to bring in a decent return from clubs looking for a quality rental and the Royals were among the teams that were linked. Ultimately, Amaro kept his word and will now keep one of his club's cornerstones for the foreseeable future.
The Phillies and Utley's representation were first reported to be discussing something with an average annual value of about $13MM, modeled after Carlos Beltran's two-year pact with the Cardinals, late last month. While both play different positions, both have displayed significant value in the face of injuries.
In 342 plate appearances this season, Utley owns a .275/.336/.505 slash line with 15 homers. For his career, the second baseman has hit .287/.373/.500 across eleven seasons for the Phillies. A variety of knee problems and right thumb surgery in 2010 have caused Utley to average 100 games in the three seasons prior to 2013.
Utley is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, the same agency that previously ironed out a seven-year, $85MM deal for the second baseman.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia first reported that an agreement had been reached (on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the contract would contain multiple vesting options and provided the financial breakdown after Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the deal was worth $27MM (Twitter link).
Steve Adams contriubted to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
No team in baseball holds a bigger lead on first place in its division than the Braves' 11.5 game advantage on the second-place Nationals. And yet, as MLBTR's Jeff Todd pointed out Thursday, just four trades involving NL East teams occurred in the entire month of July. Here's more on the Braves and the rest of the AL East…
- The Braves still want to add another infielder and a left-handed bat to their bench, and GM Frank Wren told Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there's a good chance of an August trade for Atlanta to address those needs. The team also needs to see how outfielders Reed Johnson, Jordan Schafer and B.J. Upton fare as they work their way back to health.
- Wren called this year's deadline "strange," noting that there were fewer sellers and fewer players available than he's accustomed to seeing, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Wren said he had some conversations on Wednesday leading up to the deadline, but none proved to be substantial.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that he never got the sense that anything was close in the trade discussions he had leading up to the deadline. "[Wednesday] wasn't our day," said Beinfest.
- After holding onto Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon, both players are now part of the Phillies' rebuild, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Papelbon would be wise to follow the examples of Lee and Michael Young, in the mind of Brookover, rather than make candid comments like the one Papelbon issued this past Sunday when he said, "I definitely didn't come here for this," adding that the organization needed changes from top to bottom.
- Phillies president David Montgomery offered the highest praise for Chase Utley when speaking to Brookover's colleague, Ryan Lawrence. Montgomery noted that Utley has endeared himself to the city and is a "max-out player" and "a tremendous teammate." Clearly, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. agreed, adding: "I'm not sure he's a guy you can replace at second base." The two sides continue to work toward an extension, though Lawrence notes that the Phillies don't feel they need to get a deal done before he hits free agency, likening Utley's situation to that of Jimmy Rollins following the 2011 season.
WEDNESDAY: The two sides are discussing a three-year deal or two-year deal (plus a vesting option) for around $13MM per season, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Phillies consider Utley to be their franchise player and have every intention of keeping him around.
MONDAY: Two GMs with interest in Utley were informed he's unavailable, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman confirms the Phillies are trying to sign him to an extension.
THURSDAY: The Phillies had recent talks with Chase Utley's representation about a contract extension, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury also notes that the Phillies are not listening to trade offers for their second baseman, they did include him in a post-trade deadline promotion, and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has "recently been spotted huddling for private conversations at the ballpark" with Utley.
Utley, 34, hovered right outside our top ten free agents in a mid-July power rankings update. He's hitting .286/.346/.520 with 13 home runs in 298 plate appearances. Despite missing a month with an oblique injury, he seems primed to play 125 games for the first time since '09. I imagine the Phillies would be willing to make a qualifying offer after the season if they don't extend or trade Utley, as the sticking point in negotiations could be more about years than salary since he will play next year at age 35. Utley was drafted and developed by the Phillies and could have a Hall of Fame case if he finishes his career strong.
The trade market for second basemen is light without Utley, as you can see from Steve Adams' analysis earlier this month.
The Phillies are willing to listen to offers on any players except Domonic Brown, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. That includes Cliff Lee, though general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s preference is to hang onto him, and he'd need to be blown away to move his ace left-hander.
The Phillies view Hamels' poor season as an aberration, according to Salisbury, and their desire is for Hamels and Lee to front their rotation in 2014. Utley, of course, is said to be working on an extension with the Phillies, and Brown has emerged as the young power bat that the Phillies have hoped he could become.
Boston is currently the most interested team in Lee's services, according to Salisbury, and their interest dates back to the offseason when they were told he wasn't available. Salisbury adds that the Red Sox's reluctance to part with Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley Jr. makes it likely that Lee will likely remain with the Phillies beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Recent reports have indicated that Lee would require three or four top prospects to acquire, though at least one NL executive speculated that he did think Lee would be traded.
Both the Yankees and Red Sox continue to show interest in Michael Young, and Salisbury writes that Jonathan Papelbon is "very much available" as well. He notes that the Tigers' interest in Papelbon had cooled even before their acquisition of Jose Veras on Monday, so there may no longer be a fit between the two sides.
Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned today amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Two sources told Spencer the agent for recently-demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich contacted the team several months ago to report an incident where Martinez erupted in anger unjustly and grabbed a player by his neck and neck chain. The MLBPA was notified of the alleged incident, as well as others involving Martinez, and the union then contacted the Commisioner's office and that office was expected to contact the Marlins on Tuesday, Spencer reports. Martinez, who had never been a Major League coach before this season, was owner Jeffrey Loria’s hand-picked selection to become Marlins' hitting coach. The Red Sox also had interest in hiring Martinez before he took the job with the Marlins. In other news and notes coming from the NL East:
- The Phillies are still not acknowledging the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as sources say the Cuban right-hander is awaiting visa approval, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract with the Phillies, which could be worth as much as $59MM.
- Gelb also tweeted that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins indicated he is not willing to waive his no-trade clause, if asked.
- There is no indication the Phillies are aggressively taking offers for Chase Utley in the event a contract extension cannot be reached, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- The Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he would like to add some more depth before the Trade Deadline. "If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack," Rizzo said. "We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls."
- Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect the Mets to make any moves prior to the Trade Deadline, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marlon Byrd is the Met name most mentioned in trade rumors and a team source tells Ackert the asking price is a top 10-15 prospect.