Phillies

Chase Utley Holds the Hand in Hopes the Phillies Will Fold, or Does He?

The Phillies probably won’t be able to trade Chase Utley unless they do two things – trade Utley where he wants to go and eat most, if not all, of the money that’s owed to him through the end of his contract, which ends after the 2018 season.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Angels thought they had a deal to land Utley, but it just so happens they don’t.

The Angels thought they had a deal with the Phillies for Utley on Friday, reported MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. But sources suggested on Saturday that the Angels were pessimistic about their chances of landing the second baseman, with one going so far as to say they were “out.”

Such proclamations are dangerous, given the fluid nature of trade talks. If anything, the Angels’ need for Utley — who could serve at first base and DH as well as second — has only increased in recent days, with the team’s lead in the race for the second wild card down to a half-game.

Rosenthal says that may be Utley’s best option, because the rest are fairly limited due to what Utley wants in return.

The Dodgers currently are without second baseman Howie Kendrick, who is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. But Kendrick, in the best-case scenario, could return in two weeks. Even if he does not, the Dodgers simply might stick with Kike Hernandez, who has an .875 OPS in 161 plate appearances and is 7 for 13 with a home run while starting at second the past three games.

Playing time could end up just as limited with the Giants, who are awaiting the return of second baseman Joe Panik from lower back inflammation. The Giants want Utley perhaps more than any club, sources say. But Panik is expected to resume baseball activities next week and could return around Sept. 1.

The Cubs remain in the mix for Utley — they attempted to trade for him in July when he was still on the disabled list, sources say. But they apparently are not Utley’s first choice, and club officials might not want to disrupt a team that has won 15 of its past 16 games. Chris Coghlan — who, like Utley, is a left-handed hitter — currently is getting the majority of playing time at second base, and his OPS against right-handed pitching is .800.

The Yankees, who rank last in the majors in OPS at second base, could offer Utley the most playing time of any club. But if Utley truly prefers to go west, he might not consider an East Coast option.

Utley is taking a gamble in really controlling where he winds up going if he’s traded. I don’t really blame him – he’s earned that. Jimmy Rollins set a similar stance when the Phillies tried trading him last season, before ultimately accepting a deal to go to the Dodgers. Utley’s been playing better lately, and he thinks he’s still an everyday player. That remains to be seen if he can continue to produce at a high level [or, really, as high as he can], but teams wouldn’t want to give up much for him, and I can’t blame them, either.

It seems like Chase is happy where he’s at and isn’t clamoring to be dealt anywhere. Of course, we don’t really know what’s going on in his head, and he’s never going to tell the media how he really feels, but if he’s having fun playing with the younger guys and is okay with having one World Series championship to his name, why would he want to move?

The next two weeks will be interesting, as the waiver trade deadline ends the last day of August.

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