Longtime star second baseman Chase Utley will rejoin the Phillies tomorrow, the club announced. It’s almost certainly too late for him to reach sufficient plate appearances to trigger his vesting option for next season, making it a straight team decision whether to pick him up at $15MM or instead pay a $2MM buyout. But that doesn’t mean his return won’t be interesting, as Utley remains a very plausible August trade candidate. Indeed, the Phillies veteran is drawing interest around the league, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Yankees are among the teams expected to have some interest in adding Utley down the stretch. Of course, his appeal will depend heavily upon the form he shows upon his return.
Here’s more from the National League:
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty provided some interesting thoughts on his team’s trade deadline moves, especially the Johnny Cueto deal, in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (links to Twitter). “We had the Cueto deal done, then another team came in,” said Jocketty, “and I was actually able to get a little more out of the Royals.”
- One key piece of that deal, of course, was lefty Brandon Finnegan, who Jocketty says will be expected to work as a starter at Triple-A before joining the big league club in September. After entering the year with 28 days of service and tacking on about 37 more thus far in 2015, Finnegan still has six years of team control remaining and won’t line up as a Super Two candidate even if he spends next month (and all of next year) on the Cincinnati staff.
- Jocketty also discussed the Reds’ timeline to return to contention (Twitter link), saying that “our plan at this point is that we realistically have a real good shot in 2017.” While he praised the team’s “nucleus,” Jocketty’s statement seems to suggest that next season will be something of a regrouping year. The club has worked to fill its system with young arms after parting with Cueto and Mike Leake, but it remains to be seen how and when they will develop into productive big leaguers. With several big contracts limiting flexibility, and players like Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce entering their final years of control, it will be interesting to see whether Cinci pursues further trades over the winter.
- Braves GM John Hart also discussed his team’s role in the three-team, thirteen-player deadline deal with the Dodgers and Marlins with MLB Network Radio (Twitter links). He confirmed that the club was motivated primarily by the chance to add the bat of infielder Hector Olivera for a relatively minor commitment (five-years and roughly $30MM after 2015). Atlanta was weighing its options for bolstering its lineup, he indicated, and felt that it would cost too much to compete for the top-level bats set to hit the coming free agent market.