It remains to be seen how much interest the Chicago Cubs will have in Phillies second baseman Chase Utley now that they’ve made significant changes to the lineup, but we’ll probably find out soon either way.
According to Jon Morosi, the Phillies placed Utley, who recently returned from an ankle injury, on revocable trade waivers on Saturday. (EDIT: Morosi just updated to say that the Phillies actually placed Utley on waivers Sunday, but, because the waiver is processed on business days, the time line for our purposes remains the same.)
You can read the primer on August trades for the particulars, but the gist is, teams now have a chance to say, “Yeah, we’d take Utley,” and the Phillies can then decide if they want to trade him to the team that claims him with the highest priority (reverse standings order, NL first, then AL – so Cubs are 12th in line as of this morning).
If no team claims Utley within two business days of the waiver, he has “cleared” waivers, and can freely be traded.
The Cubs have been connected to Utley, 36, in the recent past, though they’re not the only team. His contract is complicated, but the gist is, he comes with a team option – likely for $9 million – in 2016, with a $2 million buyout. He’s owed about $2.5 million more for the rest of this season.
Although he’s been having a terrible season, if Utley is healthy now, it’s a pretty intriguing opportunity to get him in house now, see how he looks and fits, and then get a relatively cheap team option on him for 2016. As we’ve discussed before, the Cubs could theoretically have an opening at second base for 2016, depending on how their younger players shuffle around.
Utley does have full no trade rights, and that applies to waiver claims as well. This weekend, Utley said he would listen if the Phillies approached him about a trade. It’s possible he would ask to have his 2016 option guaranteed in order to approve a trade, depending on how he anticipates his own value heading into the offseason.
Because of the Cubs’ weekend sweep of the Giants, by the way, the latter team has priority in claiming Utley, and a recent CSN Philly report indicated that the Giants have been scouting him. Even if the Giants are only mildly interested – Joe Panik could be back eventually – they might put in a claim to block the Cubs.