With the Philadelphia Phillies struggling to stay relevant in the NL East, it is likely the team will once again be big sellers at the July trade deadline.
While last year saw the team part with fan favorites Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, there is another quite popular player that could be leaving town in 2013: Chase Utley. After two injury plagued years, Utley returned to relative health in 2013 and so far as been a huge producer for the Phillies.
He is second to Domonic Brown in runs scored (34) and home runs (11), and third on the team in RBI (30). Of the everyday players, Utley is also third in batting average (.279) and second in OPS (.856).
Of course, Utley’s production has been helping the Phillies, but without consistency from the rest of the lineup, Brown excluded, the team has not been able to keep up with the division-leading Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals, who sit 9.5 and 2.5 games ahead respectively. They are eight games back in the wildcard race.
As a result of the struggles, the Phillies have been mentioned recently as being possible sellers at the deadline. And while GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will not confirm as much, it seems very likely the team will be looking to move some of their aging stars, Utley included.
And here is where the Los Angeles Dodgers come in to play. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Dodgers could have interest in Utley, L.A.’s native son.
Everyone already knows that the Dodgers are loaded with stars as a result of the monstrous trade made with the Boston Red Sox last year. However, with all of the star power and talent on the roster, there is one area where L.A. is weak. As it just so happens, that area is at second base.
Even at this point in his career, Utley is still a better overall second baseman than both Mark Ellis and Nick Punto, the two guys L.A. currently has manning the position.
Utley has shown he can still field at a solid level and that his knees can still handle the grind of being an everyday second baseman Other than the on-the-field side of things, Utley to the Dodgers makes perfect sense and would be a perfect fit. After all, the California local played college ball at UCLA and grew up rooting for the Dodgers, always envisioning himself wearing Dodger blue.
Amaro is not actively shopping Utley per se but if the right offer comes along, you’d have to think he would take it. Utley has proven he can still play, which should net the Phillies some decent prospects and as a free agent next year, there is no guarantee the team will re-sign him anyway.
Plus, the Dodgers have a need at this position and when it comes to trade talks, this could give the Phillies a bit of leverage.
In fact, Amaro has not even initiated contract talks with Utley yet, which could be a sign the team is prepared to go in a different direction, namely the young and up-and-coming Maikel Franco, who many expect will make his major league debut in 2014.
So while many would like to see Utley play out his career and retire as a member of the Phillies, Amaro has to consider what is best for the team. At this point, trading Utley and to a team like the Dodgers, that has a decent crop of blue-chip prospects, could be favorable to both parties.
The Phillies would bolster the farm and Utley would get to live out his childhood dream. It really is a win-win and so rarely in trade situations does that seem to happen.