The Giants had a scout watching the Phillies/Padres series in San Diego this weekend with the purpose of watching Chase Utley, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. Utley made his return from the disabled list this weekend and went 4-for-10 over the three games, contributing three doubles, two runs and two RBI in Philadelphia’s sweep of the Padres. It was Utley’s first game action since June 22.
Utley may be one of the most closely-watched veterans of the August waiver period, as the Cubs, Angels and Yankees have already been rumored to be interested in the veteran second baseman. The Giants’ interest is tied to the health of Joe Panik, who is on the DL with lower back inflammation. As Salisbury notes, Utley could be acquired for depth and leadership purposes since Panik is expected to return. Since Utley has hit only .189/.263/.294 this season, it’s also maybe a stretch that Utley can be relied on as an everyday replacement unless he shows signs of his old form.
San Francisco may be an ideal trade destination for Utley, as his family’s offseason home is in the Bay Area. He has no-trade protection as a 10-and-5 player, and Utley has said he’s open to exploring whatever trade options the Phillies bring to him.
Utley is owed approximately $4.59MM for the remainder of the season, and he has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that will be unlocked if he receives 500 plate appearances this season. He has 259 PA after today’s action, and his lengthy DL stint makes it unlikely he’ll reach that vesting plateau. With less than 500 PA, the option become a club option worth between $5MM-$11MM (depending on time spent on the DL) with a $2MM buyout.