Chase Utley’s future is completely in his hands.
After it was reported that “several” teams have made an offer for the 36-year-old last night, it appeared that Utley had numerous options in regards to where he wanted to write the final chapters of his Major League career.
Of the teams interested, the Giants, Angels, Yankees, Cubs, and Astros were considered the favorites to land the second baseman before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline.
Now, however, USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale has reported that of the “several” teams, Utley will likely decide between two—the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago Cubs.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 14, 2015
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Utley will only accept a trade to a team if he’s guaranteed a certain degree of playing time.
People close to Chase Utley say he’ll only agree to a deal if he’s assured of playing time with acquiring team. Intends to play beyond 2015.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 13, 2015
Both the Angels and Cubs could provide Utley with the playing time he desires. The Cubs have moved rookie Addison Russell to shortstop and have been experimenting with outfielder Chris Coghlan at second to clear space for Kyle Schwarber’s bat in left field. Former shortstop Starlin Castro is expected to see time at second base this weekend against the White Sox’s left-handed starters. In short, the Cubs don’t have a reliable option at second, which would give them more incentive to sign Utley.
The Angels are an interesting option because current second baseman Johnny Giavotella has been serviceable at the plate for them all season long, posting a slash line of .271/.320/.359 with three home runs and 40 RBIs. He’s been hot as of late, batting .320 in 50 at-bats this month. Would the Angels want to take a chance on Utley’s bat instead of sticking with Giavotella? Utley’s bat has shown life since his return from the DL, collecting seven hits in 17 at-bats with three doubles, but his struggles earlier this season are hard to ignore.
The Angles also don’t have a ton of “roster flexibility,” with the club wanting to hold onto certain underperforming players such as former Phillie Shane Victorino and Taylor Featherston. First base or DH are other options if the Angels want to keep Utley’s bat in the lineup.
Utley will be in the lineup batting leadoff for the Phillies tonight in Milwaukee. With all the buzz surrounding the beloved veteran, any game could be his last in a Phillies uniform.