Sports franchises, like any other business, have to consider risk and reward in making any blockbuster deal.
The Philadelphia Phillies will likely have at least one valuable commodity that can be acceptably—if not easily—replaced in perennial All-Star second baseman Chase Utley. The New York Yankees have a need for a second baseman. The Phillies have a second baseman in waiting, Cesar Hernandez, who looks like he’s ready to contribute a lot for a long time both offensively and defensively at the position, but currently is blocked by Utley’s presence. Hernandez looks like he could be outstanding defensively and a 10-year .300 hitter in the majors, albeit without Utley’s power numbers.
With the Phillies floundering at the trade deadline, either Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. or Yankees GM Brian Cashman could broach the subject of a deal that would benefit both ball clubs and both should listen to the other. At this point, realistically, Utley could be unloaded for two top-of-the-line Yankee prospects and a mid-level veteran and those areas of need include a pitcher, a power hitting outfielder or a young catcher—in other words, everything.
Utley’s contract runs through 2015 and he would represent a better option for the Yankees than their current injury-prone second baseman, Brian Roberts. Utley’s compact left-handed hitting swing would be perfect for the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. Currently, Utley is leading all second basemen in batting average (.335) and has four homers and 25 RBI.
The biggest risk for Amaro is that the energetic Utley is the most popular Phillies player of the last 15 years and trading him would not go over well in Philadelphia, where the fans would prefer to see the lethargic Jimmy Rollins let go. But Rollins won’t go, saying he “wants to set records” without mentioning wanting to win. Plus, the only Rollins replacement on the horizon, J.P. Crawford, is two years away in Single A ball.
Above all else, Utley wants to win. By the trade deadline even he will have come to this conclusion: That can better be done in nearby New York than Philadelphia. This would be a classic trade that would benefit both ball clubs if the two general managers can work something out.