Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has drawn interest on the trade market after clearing revocable waivers, making him eligible to be dealt to any team. But he does possess full no-trade protection by way of ten-and-five rights, and ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that Utley will only authorize a deal if he receives certain assurances of playing time. (Links to Twitter.)
In part, it seems, that preference is motivated by the fact that Utley is planning to play in 2016, per the report. It’s likely that he’ll be looking for a new deal as a free agent. Utley’s deal includes a vesting option for next year, but he will almost certainly not meet the plate appearance threshold required for the option to vest. And it’s unlikely that Philadelphia or an acquiring team will pick up the club option (which has a floating value depending upon how much time he spends on the DL).
With a $2MM buyout on next year’s option and about $4.5MM to go the rest of the way in 2015, it’s expected that the Phillies will need to pay down a good portion of the contract to facilitate a trade. Of course, that’s strongly implied by the fact that Utley was not claimed on waivers.
Several clubs are reportedly interested in the veteran second baseman, who has turned things on at the plate since coming off the DL. Olney notes that the Cubs have had conversations about Utley with the Phils for some time. And he observes that Chicago would conceivably be able to slot Utley into a regular role, though one wonders whether the team would still prefer some kind of time-share. (It’s not clear exactly what kind of situation would hold appeal to the 36-year-old.)
The Giants, meanwhile, are also interested, but may have a harder time promising playing time. Incumbent Joe Panik is expected to return from the DL before the end of the regular season. While acknowledging his team’s interest, San Francisco GM Bobby Evans noted that it may be difficult to add a player of Utley’s stature for part-time work, as Carl Seward of the Bay Area News Group tweeted yesterday, seemingly hinting at the issue raised by Olney.
MLBTR’s Steve Adams polled readers earlier today about Utley’s likely destination. You can head over to the poll to participate.