For the first time in his career, Chase Utley will be wearing a new uniform after the Philadelphia Phillies' star second baseman has reportedly agreed to a trade that will send him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
USA Today provided details of the trade.
The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the trade has been agreed upon, but not finalized. The Phillies will receive a pair of mid-level prospects from the Dodgers, who will also receive $2 million to help offset the remainder of the $15 million Utley is paid this season.
One of the prospects is believed to be Darnell Sweeney, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. The Dodgers will also receive $2 million to help pay for the $6 million remaining on Utley's 2015 salary, per Mark Saxon of ESPN LA.
The Phillies are 46-73 in 2015, continuing the downward trend of the franchise over the last several years.
General manager Ruben Amaro has already taken steps to add long-term assets for Philadelphia, dealing Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers and Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Last summer, when there was a chance Philadelphia could go into sell mode, the then-35-year-old Utley told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that his no-trade rights made it difficult to see a deal going through if the team decided to start blowing its roster up.
"Well, you’re creating situations that aren’t necessarily going to happen," Utley said. "I guess we’d have to see at that point, but I don’t plan on going anywhere. ... Last year, re-signing here was something I really wanted to do. Great organization. Nothing has changed since then. I mean, honestly, I haven’t thought about it."
Utley's no-trade clause became a focal point again after he cleared waivers, making him eligible to be dealt to any team before Aug. 31, as noted by ESPN's Buster Olney:
Playing-time assurances for Utley at this point in his career would seem hard to come by, as he's no longer the star who was a top-10 MVP candidate three times from 2006-09.
Things have fallen apart for Utley and the Phillies in 2015. The 36-year-old is hitting a paltry .217/.284/.333 in 73 games. His fall has been stunning considering he posted a .270/.339/.407 slash line in 2014 and was worth 4.5 FanGraphs wins above replacement.
Amaro ran into trouble earlier this season when he said Cesar Hernandez was the Phillies' best second baseman, per CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. That seemed to be the latest signal Utley was on his way out of town, though the only question was if anyone would take his contract.
Utley's deal is structured with three separate vesting options for 2016-2018 that kick in if he reaches 500 plate appearances. It will take a lot of playing time down the stretch for him to reach that mark in 2015, so he could turn into a rental.
The Phillies finished last in the National League East in 2014 and own a roster of aging, expensive players that prevents them from committing to a rebuild that has been on the horizon for years. They are going to do that again this season, though with more young assets to build around.
For the Dodgers, Utley will serve as a veteran presence whom they can't expect to do much given how bad he's been this season. However, with starting second baseman Howie Kendrick on the shelf for a few more weeks, the Dodgers will hope Utley can provide some sort of spark on both sides of the ball.
A change of scenery and leaving a volatile situation may rejuvenate him, as he's just one year removed from being a very effective second baseman.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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