Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Welcome to the Blue, Chase Utley!

News came about swiftly this afternoon that the Dodgers and Phillies were talking a trade that would bring veteran infielder Chase Utley to the Dodgers, per Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki.  Then Ken Rosenthal followed up with some details on twitter:
Now we hear that said proposal has been agreed upon but not yet confirmed or official, via Jon Heyman on twitter.  And with that, I'll assume that the great chase is over.  Utley will be a Dodger, and I imagine the Long Beach native is tickled pink... er, Blue.

BTW, as this post goes live Utley is still in a Phillies uniform in Citizen's Bank Park, via a tweet from Phillies beat writter Ryan Lawrence.  He's on field for pregame practice and I would be willing to bet he'll still be in Phillies Red when the game starts in the next hour or so.  Utley has been such an immense fixture within the franchise, assuming this deal goes through, that the only respectful thing to do is to give him his final curtain call in Philadelphia.

Chase Utley is a six-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger and all-around gamer who has been a leader within the Phillies clubhouse for many years.  He brings about experience and a desire to win before the flame goes out in his illustrious career.  Although he has had a tough go of it this season in Philadelphia (batting just .217 and OPS'ing .617) he is sure to provide a needed boost to a club that has found it difficult to score runs.  With Howie Kendrick sitting on the DL he should slot in immediately as the Dodgers everyday second baseman - paired with old friend Jimmy Rollins. This move also allows Kik√© Hernandez to sub for Joc Pederson in centerfield more often.

I find this trade to be strangely familiar (kinda).  When the LA Kings were going through their first foray towards a Stanley Cup Championship they too made a series of trades that involved the Philadelphia club.  In fact, many hockey fans started calling the Kings the Flyers West.  Prior to that first championship they traded for a gritty centerman in Mike Richards before the start of the season, then added a offensive juggernaut going through a poor season in Jeff Carter (by way of Columbus - he had been with the Flyers just prior) towards the end of the regular season.  Both players proved to be important cogs during the playoffs.  Hopefully, these moves by the Dodgers does the same thing.

Per Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors:
Utley, 36, has been one of the game’s very best players of the last decade. Over his 6,617 career plate appearances, he has produced at a 124 wRC+ clip. With stellar defense also a key component of his value, Utley has racked up over 60 WAR in 13 seasons.

But that outstanding production slowed somewhat last year and fell off a cliff in 2015 as Utley dealt with nagging ankle issues. He ultimately hit the DL for a stretch as his performance continued to suffer. All told, Utley carries a career-worst .617 OPS on the season.

Things have been trending up, however, since Utley returned from the DL. He’s slashed a robust .484/.485/.742 over 31 plate appearances in the month of August. That’s a small sample, of course, but it does suggest he’s healthy, and Utley obviously has an outstanding and lengthy track record of success.
Check out this great article by Bill Shaikin of the LA Times from 2008 about how he coulda/shoulda been a Dodger, here.  An excerpt is below:
The Dodgers took Utley in the second round in 1997. He said no to the Dodgers, yes to UCLA.

Terry Reynolds, then the Dodgers' scouting director, said Utley had agreed to sign, then took a trip to Mexico. When he returned, Reynolds said, Utley had changed his mind.

Utley said he could not remember the details of his decision to turn down the Dodgers.

"It came down to the opportunity to go to college during college age," he said. "They said I could always go back. I wanted a normal college experience. I figured, if baseball was meant to be, there would still be that opportunity after college."
It is still unknown who the two prospects are, but it is thought that they will be decent players.

In celebration of Utley's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from Operation Sports and the 1972 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career stats, via Baseball-Reference:

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