A mere day after Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Chase Utley was likely going to be with the organization for the remainder of the season, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday for two min0r leaguers, according to an article posted today on ESPN.
Utley is a player with tons of experience, as the 36-year-old had spent the first 13 years of his big league career with the Phillies, and the second-baseman is comfortable going to the Dodgers.
“I gave them a list of a handful of teams that I would consider playing for,” said Utley at Wednesday’s news conference in Philadelphia, according to MLB.com. “Ultimately it came down to the Dodgers, a team I grew up watching.”
The Dodgers are receiving $4 million from the Phillies to offset the $6 million that remains on Utley’s $15-million salary. In the trade, the minor leaguers being sent to Philadelphia are utility player Darnell Sweeney and right-handed pitcher John Richy.
The trade strikes me as the right call. With Philadelphia assuming the cellar dweller role of the league, their .392 average currently being the worst in baseball, they should be focusing on future development. On the other side of the trade, the Dodgers just keeping adding depth – which is important in their pennant race for NL West. As of today, Aug. 20, they are two games ahead of the San Francisco Giants, and own a .558 win percentage.
And with Utley, they have an everyday second-baseman, at least until Howie Kendrick returns from his hamstring injury. The organization estimates Kendrick will be healthy in about three weeks, according to the same ESPN article. When Kendrick does return, it seems that Utley will assume a utility role, as he has experience playing first base and third with the Phillies.
According to an ESPN article written by Mark Saxon, Utley also has strong post-season experience, with 10 home runs and a .902 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) in playoff games.
The trade also reunites Utley with double play partner shortstop Jimmy Rollins (who has been batting .300 since the All-Star break), as they played together in Philadelphia from 2003 to 2014, ending when Rollins was traded to L.A. in December. That 11-year span means they have a lot of chemistry and there’s a lot of experience up the middle for the Dodgers, as both players are 36 years old, as I learned from an article on the MLB network by David Schoenfield.
The Dodgers have been competitive all year round, and two starters especially have kept them in the running – Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, who have a combined ERA of 1.63 and a 17-6 record since May 12. A sour spot for the team has been the bullpen, who since July 1st and as of August 18, have had an ERA of 6.20. Ouch.
Thanks to the trade, there’s more depth and more options for centre field, where utility man Enrique Hernandez could be a solid platoon option. Rookie Joc Pederson was having a strong year, but is batting .172 over his past 64 games, and hasn’t faced much success against lefties throughout the season, with a .205 average and .654 OPS.
It’s kind-of interesting to me how the two finalists of the Home-Run Derby in Cincinnati (Pederson and the winner Todd Frazier) have forgotten how to be consistent. In 89 at-bats since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .169 (over 89 at-bats) with 15 hits, three doubles, three homers and seven RBI. Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier has an inferior average batting .157 (over 121 at-bats), but has seven doubles and four homers – with 16 RBI, as well. It just seems that Frazier has had more meaningful at-bats.
Anyway, back to L.A. Utley’s presence is going to suit the team well because he’s been a different player this season after coming back from the disabled list, after dealing with a sore ankle for the majority of the season. In his first 65 games, he’s had a .179 average, an OPS of .532 and seven doubles. In the past eight games since his return, he has been hot – batting .484 with an OPS of 1.227, and five doubles. Nearly half of his extra-base hits for the season have come in his last eight games. Awesome. He might be a temporary pick-up, as he is a free agent in November, but he is what’s right for the Dodgers at the moment.
L.A. is heading to Houston for a three-game series with the Astros, and it is expected that Utley will make his debut on Friday.