Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Although he’s cleared waivers and is freely tradable, and although there were recent reports that the Giants and Phillies were working on a deal involving specific names, Chase Utley remains a Phillie.

And, according to Buster Olney, it’s not just a Giants-or-bust situation:

As I’ve said throughout the Utley process, as a veteran addition, who may yet have something left in tank and won’t cost much, Utley remains an interesting possible piece for the Cubs. If I’m the Cubs, I’m not falling over myself to get him, but I also can see – even as the offense is clicking right now – how he could help provide depth down the stretch, and a certain presence and ability off the bench that the Cubs don’t have a ton of. You thrown in the possibility of evaluating him for 2016 (and getting him comfortable with the city and organization), and I see plausible upside here.

Bruce Levine also reports that the Cubs are still interested in Utley, together with several other teams. In the article, Theo Epstein is quoted as saying the Cubs aren’t close on any deals, and perhaps they could do something later in the month. If that’s how the Utley timeline proceeds – be it with the Cubs or any other team – that would afford evaluating teams more time to consider Utley’s ankle health and whether he’s truly over whatever issues were plaguing the start of his season.


Since his return on August 7, Utley is hitting .412/.389/.588 in 18 plate appearances (so … mostly meaningless), though he did not play in the Phillies’ most recent game.

For their part, the Phillies have already received multiple trade offers for Ultey, according to The Giants, Cubs, Angels, Astros, Yankees, and Dodgers are all listed as having interest.

Utley has full no-trade rights, so he controls where he would go in a trade, and he will reportedly wield those rights to block a deal if he feels like he’d be going somewhere without regular playing time. That also comes from Buster Olney, who mentioned it in conjunction with the Cubs:

That’s certainly a decent amount of smoke.

Would the Cubs guarantee Utley starts? Well, if they believe he’s healthy and effective, absolutely. It’s easy to look at the start of Utley’s year and be turned off, but, if that was because of his ankle injury, and if he’s over it, then he’s a big-time contributor, even at age 36. Folks watching Utley so far in his return do say that he’s looked better, though it would be nice to have a whole lot more time to discern that before making any commitments.

If the Cubs did add Utley, that would presumably turn Chris Coghlan into a part-time player in a multiplicity of roles (and Starlin Castro would presumably be a platooner at second base, at most). With Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella also coming soon, the Cubs could suddenly have an embarrassment of riches on the bench after having so little there for so long.

And, of course: injuries happen. Struggles happen. Maybe creating this kind of glut on the bench is the best thing for the Cubs heading into late August. I’ll admit, I furrow my brow a little bit figuring out how exactly to make all of this fit in the most efficient, effective way possible. I also don’t love the idea of taking Chris Coghlan’s bat out of the lineup on a regular basis.

So, for now, I’ll just stand back as an observer and note that there are theoretical ways that adding Utley makes sense for the Cubs. But I don’t think they’ll be too much worse for the wear if they don’t get him, or even if they do get him, and he doesn’t contribute.

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