The Chase Utley-to-San Francisco rumors just got real.
Before the Giants took the field against the Washington National on Thursday, GM Bobby Evans confirmed to beat writer Chris Haft that an official offer had been made:
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the only hold-up is an assurance of playing time. Utley has started for the Phillies for over a decade, and will control his own fate with the backing of a full no-trade clause.
With all of the chatter surrounding this potential match over the past week, this isn’t a huge surprise by any means. Still, the addition of the six-time All-Star would represent a huge personnel move for the Giants following the non-waiver trade deadline.
The offense is in desperate need of a bat with several key players out, and Utley seems to have rediscovered his swing following a lengthy DL stint. Though his contract is less than ideal—likely requiring a $2 million buyout on top of the $4.5 million he is still owed this year—San Francisco is reportedly willing to bite the bullet on going into the luxury tax. With the rival Dodgers losing their starting second baseman long-term, adding Utley would also serve to prevent their divisional nemesis from picking up another veteran for their stretch drive.
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Regular playing time appears to be the only pitfall. While Utley would be a lineup fixture until Joe Panik returns, starts would be few and far between after the 24-year-old’s activation. Utley could occasionally spell Panik while he gets back up to speed, and potentially see a start or two at first base with Brandon Belt shifting to left, but he would be all but reduced to a pinch-hitting role barring another injury.
The Giants have to hope their championship mystique is enough to sell Utley on the demotion, and that the Phillies are content with the prospect package on the table. Either Tyler Beede, Kyle Crick or Andrew Susac—the team’s most coveted young players—is likely in the mix.
If those two things come together, fans should be seeing the left-handed slugger in orange and black sooner rather than later.