Late Tuesday night, the Phillies announced that they placed second baseman Chase Utley on the disabled list after a season of struggling with a right ankle injury. The news is frustrating for Utley for the obvious reasons, but the DL trip could also impact his future beyond this season. As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com notes, Utley has a $15MM option for 2016 that automatically vests if he reaches 500 plate appearances. It’s quite possible that Utley’s time away from the field could keep him from reaching that plateau.
As of today, the 36-year-old has 249 PAs through the first 73 games of the season. The 15-day DL stint alone won’t rule out 500 plate appearances, of course, but any missed time beyond that will make it even more challenging. As it stands, Utley isn’t sure exactly how long he’s going to need in order to heal up.
“Talking to the doctor today, the more time I can lay off it the better chance it has to heal properly,” Utley said. “I don’t have an exact time frame. It will be at least 15 days.”
On the plus side, Utley says that his knees – which have been an issue in the past – are healthy. Through roughly three months of the season, Utley hasn’t been looking like the six-time All-Star that he is. The veteran owns a slash line of .179/.257/.275, which would easily stand as his career worst if the season ended today. Utley’s name popped up on MLBTR more than once this season as a trade possibility, but he won’t garner much interest this summer with the way he has been hitting and his ankle issue.