FEB. 10: Utley has narrowed his field to four teams, tweets Rosenthal. The veteran second baseman is only considering contending clubs and is moving closer to making a decision.
FEB. 8: The Indians are interested in veteran second baseman Chase Utley, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Certainly, as Heyman notes, Cleveland is far from a perfect fit for Utley, as Jason Kipnis is entrenched at second base. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal hears the same, noting that there are also other clubs in the mix on Utley (Twitter link).
The Indians seemingly would have a difficult time finding consistent at-bats for Utley, which could make them a tough sell for the 38-year-old. With Kipnis at second base and a combination of Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana set to rotate between first base and DH, there’s no regularly open spot for Utley to occupy. However, he’d be a nice bat off the bench for manager Terry Francona, and it’s possible that Utley would be attracted to Cleveland’s deep roster and status as an early AL Central division favorite. Heyman notes that Cleveland would be interested in giving Utley a utility job if he’s open to such a role. His experience outside of second base is fairly limited, but Utley has logged a few innings at both infield corners in the Majors (230 at first base and 27 at third).
Utley didn’t have a great season at the plate in 2016 but held his own in mostly regular work with the Dodgers, hitting .252/.319/.396 with 14 homers in 565 plate appearances. His batting line was dragged down by a woeful .154/.206/.264 slash against left-handed pitchers, but Utley handled righties quite well; in 468 trips to the plate while holding the platoon advantage, he batted .273/.343/.425 with 12 of his 14 round-trippers.
Cleveland may also be attractive to Utley based on the simple fact that there aren’t many teams with regular second-base at-bats to offer. The Dodgers and Angels entered the winter with clear needs at Utley’s position, but the Dodgers acquired Logan Forsythe from the Rays, while the Angels acquired Danny Espinosa from the Nationals. (The Halos could still conceivably use Utley in a platoon with the switch-hitting Espinosa, but there’s been no recent link between those two parties.)
It’s not clear which other teams have interest, though Heyman writes that some wonder if Utley, a Long Beach native and Bay Area resident, would be reluctant to leave California. If that’s the case it becomes all the more difficult to find a fit. The A’s could theoretically make room for Utley by shifting Jed Lowrie to a utility role, but there’s been no connection between the two. The Giants could move an infielder into left field to try to make room for Utley, but that’s obviously far from a perfect fit as well.
Speculating further (if Utley is willing to leave the west coast), the Royals could seek some more certainty at second base or, at least, a left-handed bat for the bench. The Braves have also been loosely linked to second base upgrades this winter, while the Twins are known to be looking for a strong veteran voice in their clubhouse. Signing with a team that lost as many games as either Atlanta or Minnesota did in 2016 could be a tough sell for Utley, however, to say nothing of geographic preference. All of these potential fits outside of Cleveland are, of course, speculative reaches due to the lack of obvious fits for the longtime Phillies star. Still, at last check Utley was said to have received “multiple offers,” so it seems that he’ll ultimately find a team to suit up for what will be his 15th Major League season.
tribe doesn’t need him!! also, second paragraph, it says kipnis at 1B 🙂
Hello Steve, quick fix but it notes “with Kipnis at first base…”
I’ve wondered about him going to the A’s, seems like a good fit to me!
Jason Kipnis plays where Jason Kipnis wants!
Haha, thanks for that. Fixed.
Just Another Fan
I agree, A’s and Rays seem like nice fits to get Utley 400+ PA.
Angel’s on the cheap would be good and they might compete this year if they find pitching
So Cleveland will be chasing Utley?
You deserve one point
I’m expecting the 4pm update stating Cleveland has denied the connection. Probably a rumor floated by an agent.
Chase utley won’t hurt em
So he spells Kipnis at 2B because Kip always has a worse second half? I don’t trust his lack of experience elsewhere to fill the utility role.
You’d rather have Michael Martinez off the bench?
My grandmother has a better slugging and OBP than Michael Martinez. Oh, and she’s dead.
So he spells Kip for the platoon advantage at 2nd in order to give him more rest. I don’t trust his lack of experience anywhere else. Seems like a tough fit given the lot of outfielders we may be carrying of the bench…
There’d be no platoon advantage, as Kipnis and Utley both bat lefty.
Oh, right. So even less of a fit
Haven’t we all, at one point?
He can play extra innings to bring in the runner that will magically appear on 2nd base.
He can be the runner that magically appears.
Mets fans have interest in disliking the Indians.
As a life long Phillies fan who resides in Cleveland…. please do this. Hit bat isn’t what it was, but as a leader and a clubhouse guy, there isn’t anyone better.
Johnny Gomes is better as a leader and clubhouse guy
The same Johnny Gomes that hit .169 in Japan last year?
I feel like Utley would be a great benefit to any team, just not as an everyday player. If you look at his splits last year as it progressed, the length of the season clearly got to him. Probably just doesn’t have it in him for the everyday grind anymore. More rest between starts and a few pinch hits could do wonders.
Would be a waste of a valuable roster spot.
Jays ? Travis is def not a sure thing to be healthy all year … and still need a of/another reliever before i would look to be signing guys like Utley but i can see the fit ..
If Utley takes Smoak’s spot, I’d be all for it. Let him play a bunch of 1B, while also giving Travis some regular rest.
We already have Pierce , Barney , Goins and Diaz resigned a minors deal. Plenty of 2B depth
Plus if u follow the fan base the FO will be hung and quartered for signing a declining older vet. One more and there may be a Trump style protest outside the Rogers center with pitchforks aflame
Pearce is the type of player you put at 2B in case of emergency. He’s not someone you actively allow to play 2B. Goins isn’t making the team, and quite possibly gets claimed on waivers after Spring. Diaz is meaningless. If you’re replacing Smoak with Utley, you increase the flexibility of the team. But if you’re adding Utley to compete for a different spot, then it’s not worth it.
Travis will be on DL for most of the season. Utley in Toronto!
Utley has to decide if he wants to sign with a team that will give him more playing time or with a team where he’ll get fewer at bats, but have a chance to win. I don’t see him as a fit in Cleveland playing time wise unless they plan on giving him games at 3rd base & then use Ramirez all over the diamond. However, Cleveland does give him a chance to win. He’d probably get more at bats with a team like Atlanta, but won’t likely be on a winning team. I don’t see the Jays having any interest in Utley. They are committed to Travis & if he does get an injury, they believe Barney can hold down the position. They also have Goins, who is an excellent fielder (even if he isn’t much help offensively). The Blue Jays have bigger needs in acquiring rotation depth & perhaps a long reliever.
Don’t need him and he’s not a fit for this lineup. He has more value as a deadline deal and short term boost.
Ghost of Chase Utley
I’m so depressed . . .
Might be late to work on it. But if Utley could work out at third in the off-seasons, he could really extend his career as a bench and utility player for division winners.
2B/3B/1B/DH left handed veteran hitter who is very heads up and smart on the diamond with plenty of leadership experience. He could play until he’s 41-43 if he really wanted to.
If I’m Chase though. I see myself as an everyday 2B on a decent team still.
Honestly, the Cubs would be a solid landing spot too. Even though Baez is their 2B with Zobrist set to support him. Having Utley in the fold would really give them some help and depth.
There are still plenty of teams that could use him though. Doubt he wants a smaller market just for PA like Tampa though.
He can help in a lot of places, but doubt he gets 500 PA anywhere this year unless there is a season ending injury.
Tommy La Stella > Chase Utley
His arm strength is one the aspects of his game that has significantly eroded. At this point in his career he is limited to 2nd and 1st. That being said I’d like to see him back with Dodgers even though hes not a perfect fit.
Chase is the guy you want on your team. Period. I have never seen that man NOT hustle.
Guys a winner and a leader. He’s 38 now not 28 but look at what Seager says about him. Dodgers loved him and he’s an icon in Philly. Guy will be a valuable role player for a winner.
Indians could play him at Short-Center
That’s a good idea ! The new Short-Centerfielder can hold the new Extra-Innings Designated Runner close to Second Base.
As Newton said with his typical gravitas, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” ….
Looks like Utley’s agent is sending up a signal flare. On any team his role is going to be limited at best. Father Time is undefeated and Utley is getting close to failing the eye test. Should ride off into the sunset before he breaks a hip.
I think the Phillies should resign him to a one year deal, he is a good leader and always was and he can help the young Phillies, like JP Crawford to develop. Seager said a lot of his success was because of Chase teaching him. He’s definitely not the best, but the worst offense in baseball could still use him.
Giants in no way need this guy. We have lefty hitters.
CLEV is a bad fit for him. He needs be in the NL where he can he can pinch hit. Every DH dwarfs him at this point
Avisail Garcia would like a word with you.
Where are the best landing spots for Utley? What team would benefit the most?
Chiba Lotte Marines
Teams actually want Utley? His hitting has been just awful but on the cheap, a team could draw a few fans because of his legacy.
.273/.343/.425 vs. RHP is far from “awful”.
he may ONLY be considering contending teams … but that doesn’t mean they are considering him
It said Utley prefers California but he’s considering Cleveland? As a life-long Californian, PLEASE don’t tell me we’ve acquired Cleveland!
Didn’t you get the memo? Cleveland is now a suburb of Downey.
And Alex Spanos wants to put a football team there.
OH wait I thought it was going to be a new suburb of Cudahy.
The Adrian Beltre
Dear Chase, I feel like I can call you Chase because you and me are so alike. I’d like to meet you one day, it would be great to have a catch. I know I can’t throw as fast as you but I think you’d be impressed with my speed. I love your hair, you run fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I know you have no been getting my letters because I know you would write back if you did. I hope you write back this time, and we can become good friends. I am sure our relationship would be a real home run!