The Philadelphia Phillies pulled the trigger on another deal sending long time second baseman Chase Utley and four million dollars to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for two minor league players that have yet to be determined. The Dodgers will cover the other 1.85 million that Utley is owed. Utley will also be owed two million to buy out the 2016 option on his contract.
Why the Dodgers do this trade
On the surface, this deal seems a little dubious on the Dodgers part. They had Howie Kendrick, but Kendrick is currently on the disabled list and his position is being held by Kike Hernandez. Hernandez has an .863 OPS in 170 plate appearances this season, so there would not appear to be a need. However, Hernandez has never produced on that level before and he does have versatility, so he could return to an utility role. When you compare that to Utley’s .217/.284/.333 slash line you’d think this was much ado about nothing. Fantasy owners would be inclined to believe that as well.
Those that go along with that line of thinking are ignoring the recent trends. Since returning from the disabled list, Utley has been red hot. He is hitting .538 in his last seven games and .321 in his last 15 games. He also has played some first base to show that he has some versatility as well. More importantly, he is another playoff tested veteran that gives the Dodgers more lineup depth down the stretch.
Why the Phillies make this trade
It isn’t so much about the two million dollars they will save down the stretch or the fact that they won’t have to pay his option. The Phillies are still a large market team that don’t have to worry about money. This is about pure logic. The Phillies will need to hustle to finish out of the cellar in the NL East. They certainly wouldn’t have picked up Utley’s option after the season and they weren’t going to offer him a qualifying offer. So, why not get a couple of minor leaguers back for him while they can?
In the span of a month, the Phillies have dealt Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, and now Chase Utley. In exchange, they will add more than ten prospects to their system. Not all of them are big time prospects, but in making these trades, they are allowing the next generation of Phillies a chance to make their mark. It probably isn’t a coincidence that they’ve started winning more games lately. There is a kind of excitement there there hasn’t been in a few years.
What this trade means for you
Chase Utley went on the disabled list following June 22nd. At that point, it looked like he was done as a big league player. An all-star performer suddenly couldn’t find the Mendoza Line with a road map and flash light. His average has gone from .179 to .218 since coming back on August 7th. He has only one home run, be he has five doubles and five RBI in only eight games since coming back. If we extrapolate that over the next five weeks then we’ll see him drive in close to 20 runs and hit two or three home runs. If you are struggling at second base he might be a decent add late in the season.