Playing time, cash concerns for Utley, Phils
One sticking point in potential deal could be second baseman's part-time role
MILWAUKEE -- Perhaps if Chase Utley felt compelled to pursue what Jim Thome pursued late in his 22-year career, he might be elsewhere by now.
But Utley won a World Series with the 2008 Phillies, so while he desires a second championship and wants to play for a winner, thoughts about another one probably do not consume him like they did for Thome and others who finished their careers without a ring. Utley has that and other considerations before he decides to waive his full no-trade rights.
Utley certainly has options. Sources have told MLB.com that multiple teams have made offers to the Phils for Utley, who still could be traded before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline. But nothing has happened so far, which is surprising to some.
Sources told MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that the Angels thought they would have a deal done Friday. Other teams probably thought the same, which is why FOXSports.com reported Sunday that Utley could remain in Philadelphia.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Philadelphia radio station WIP on Tuesday that Utley "is likely to be with the Phillies for the rest of the year."
Every day that passes, it becomes one fewer day that contenders such as the Angels, Cubs, Giants, Yankees and Dodgers can use Utley, even though he has hit .500 (13-for-26) with five doubles, one home run, five RBIs and a 1.308 OPS in seven games since his return from the disabled list with a sprained right ankle. And the closer those teams move toward the end of the season, the less likely it seems they will part with a prospect that appeases the Phillies, considering Utley is going to become a free agent after the season.
Of course, there are money issues, too. A team such as the Angels will want the Phils to eat some of the roughly $4 million owed Utley before the end of the season. Utley also has a $2 million buyout on a 2016 club option, which must be paid.
Clearly, the Phillies would like to trade Utley. They want Cesar Hernandez to play as much as possible, because he is set to be their second baseman next season. So if Utley decides he does not want to play for the Angels, Cubs or Giants, he does so almost certainly knowing these will be his final few weeks with Philadelphia.
If a trade does not happen, it means Utley is OK with that.
ESPN.com first reported last week that Utley wants a playing-time guarantee before he goes anywhere. Utley wants to play regularly, because he plans to play in 2016. Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin has said he plans to play Utley four times a week, which might be as much or more than other teams are willing to pencil him into the lineup.
So maybe the iconic second baseman decides he would rather just spend the final few weeks of his contract in Philadelphia rather than face the unknown for a few weeks in a new organization. Utley has earned that right.