Yesterday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Sports Radio WIP that Chase Utley will likely spend the rest of the season on the Phillies. He would later clarify to reporters before yesterday’s game that “I don’t think that Chase has that desire to leave, frankly,” and “the Phillies don’t have the desire to move him out of here.”
It sure sounds like Utley is adamant on staying in Philadelphia. And that’s fine with me. He’s one of the best players to ever wear a Phillies uniform, and arguably the best position player we’ve seen since Mike Schmidt. In over 1500 games since 2003, he’s had over 6600 plate appearances, and hit .282/.366/.481. His OPS+ is 122, and his wRC+ is 124. He’s accumulated 60+ WAR, which is second all time in franchise history.
So why do these things matter when he’s hitting just .217/.284/.333 in 2015? Normally, trading an aging vet would be a smart move for a team in the middle of a rebuild. The Phillies have already done that with Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and Jonathan Papelbon, among others. The return wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was better than getting nothing for guys who weren’t going to be a part of the future here.
But Utley’s situation is unique. He wants to be here. We are so used to players wanting to leave a bad team to chase a ring (Papelbon), or money (looking at you, Jayson Werth), which is why so many are perplexed by Utley’s desire to stay. But him wanting to be here is why holding on to him is a good thing. Not only for Utley himself, but for the Phillies, for Ruben Amaro Jr., and for the fans. It’s a win-win-win-win. It will look good for RAJ because it shows a willingness to cater to players. It might make Philadelphia more desirable for free agents. It’ll be good for the fans because they will get to see one of their favorites a little bit longer. He’s going to be in the Phillies Hall of Fame one day, and
maybe likely the Baseball Hall of Fame as well. If he wants to stay, he should stay. No LOOGY (lefty, one out guy) or whatever they would’ve gotten for him would be worth it. There is no realistic return that would justify a trade.
Now we can just sit back, relax, and not have to worry about seeing Utley in another uniform this year. I mean, Imagine him playing for the Giants–that would be a nearly unbearable sting. It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. So rest easy Phils fans, The Man™ is staying in Philadelphia. For now.