The Phillies continued to dismantle their aging core, agreeing last night to send All-Star second baseman Chase Utley to the Dodgers in return for some salary relief and a pair of young players. “And then there were two,” said first baseman Ryan Howard, who is joined by backstop Carlos Ruiz as the only remaining pieces of the club’s 2008 World Series-winning outfit (via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki).
Here are some notes and reactions to the deal:
- Dealing a franchise icon in Utley was hard, but was “the right thing for us to do for both Chase and the franchise,” Ruben Amaro Jr. tells MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link). Utley “had given us some clubs that he would be interested in and would consider going to,” said Amaro, but it was nevertheless difficult to finalize a deal given the “complications” of the veteran’s full no-trade protection. “We got to the point where I think Chase, the Dodgers, and the Phillies kind of worked together to make this happen,” said the Philadelphia GM. “Hopefully this is a good thing for all parties.”
- Utley seemed to echo Amaro’s thoughts in his comments last night to the press, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. “Three weeks ago or so, I had a conversation with Ruben,” said Utley. “I think everyone knows my love and affection for the city . We put our heads together and decided it might be best for us to part ways. I gave them a list of a handful of teams that I would consider playing for, and then it was Ruben’s job to find the best deal he could for the organization. And ultimately it came down to the Dodgers, a team I grew up watching.” He also expressed a clear vision for what he’s hoping to accomplish in his new home: “My goal there is to win. That’s the bottom line.”
- In addition to saving about $2MM, the Phillies come away from the deal with some fairly interesting young players, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes. 24-year-old Darnell Sweeney is a solid all-around player with good defensive flexibility, writes Callis. Meanwhile, righty John Richy has a power sinker and three playable offspeed pitches, making him a possible back-end starter.
- That return represents a win for the Phillies front office, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Sweeney will head straight to the big league roster, of course, meaning that Philadelphia will get an early look at just what it has. The club was able to benefit from the fact that the Dodgers are loaded with similar players already and would have found it hard to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this winter. Given the limitations presented — salary, no-trade protection, and Utley’s struggles this year — Seidman says that it wouldn’t have been reasonable to expect more.
- From the Dodgers’ perspective, says GM Farhan Zaidi, the club has high expectations for Utley’s bat, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports. “When he’s healthy, he’s still one of the best hitters in the game,” said Zaidi. Utley is expected to see regular action at second until Howie Kendrick returns from the DL, and could shift around the infield thereafter.
- Many have wondered why Los Angeles went after a hitter when the team’s bullpen has struggled so much of late, but Zaidi indicated that adding Utley did not preclude other moves, as Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports on Twitter. Indeed, the club could still add a relief arm, according to the GM. “I don’t feel like [the Utley trade] depletes our trade capital … in any real way,” he added.