With his name being one of the most talked about in the past few weeks regarding a potential trade, Chase Utley has finally come out publicly speaking about his opinions on the subject. And if it were up to him, there is no place he’d rather play for than the Philadelphia Phillies.
In statements made to reporters, Utley said that he has never envisioned wearing the uniform of another team and that even with his name being in the news for trade rumors, that this surely has not changed. Making it seem that Ruben Amaro is not the only one wanting Utley to be a “Phillie for life.”
But even though both sides seemingly want Utley to stay in the red and white pinstripes, will it be a reality?
For now, putting the trade deadline aside, the two sides still would have to work out a contract extension to keep Utley in Philly as he is a free agent at the end of the year.
And with Utley, coming to terms on an extension might be easier said than done.
Despite Utley having a resurgent year with 11 HR, 15 doubles, a .272 average and a .492 slugging percentage which is the best it has been since his last full season in 2009, there is still the issue and concern regarding his knees.
Utley feels that he has overcome the injuries and found a way to control them, but from a negotiating standpoint, it will ultimately come down to what Amaro believes.
If the GM thinks the knee problems are behind him, the Phillies are likely to be competitive in trying to keep Utley in their uniform. Obviously there is history there and he is a fan favorite, but beyond that, at 34, Utley is still showing a great level of offensive productivity. If he can just stay healthy, he truly is an asset to any team.
And with that, there is the issue of the impending July 31 trade deadline.
Teams across the league, including Utley’s hometown Los Angeles Dodgers, have expressed interest regarding trade talks for the All-Star second baseman. And with LA’s hole at the position as well as their depth both in the majors and minors, they could make a good trade partner with the Phillies.
But now that Philadelphia is a .500 team, 6.5 games out of the NL East, 5.5 out of a wildcard spot, Amaro is flipping the switch and looking at the team as buyers and contenders.
With that, it is very unlikely Utley will be moved as he looks to be a key piece in any sort of stretch run at a shot in the postseason. But even if he isn’t, the end of the season and impending free agency remains.
So the question remains: Utley wants to stay a Phillie, but will Amaro make it happen?