Cubs Rumors: Chicago remains interested in Chase Utley
By Jake Misener
One of the biggest names to clear revocable waivers this summer is Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Could the veteran be an asset to a young Chicago Cubs team?
With the Phillies struggling mightily in a division that will send either the New York Mets or Washington Nationals to the postseason as NL East champions, unloading Utley makes more sense than ever.
The most obvious observation one can make is simple: Utley isn’t performing like he has in the past; in fact, nowhere near what he’s done in years’ past for Philadelphia, where he’s made six All-Star teams and won a pair of Silver Sluggers.
Batting just .196/.266/.298 in 70 games with the Phillies, the left-handed-swinging infielder has lost most of the season to injury, which has been both a blessing and a curse to interested teams.
While his stock has fallen and he’s, in all likelihood, a less attractive option than he would have been a couple years ago, the injury has also cost him the vesting option for 2016 valued at $15 million.
For the Chicago Cubs, this makes him more attractive than ever.
The front office has demonstrated a desire to have a veteran presence in the clubhouse to help guide the team’s young core; don’t forget – Chicago has one of the youngest rosters in all of Major League Baseball.
You have seen this in the acquisitions of both Jon Lester and catcher David Ross. While the former has inherent value given his ace make-up, the latter can’t even hit his weight, but brings invaluable mentorship and experience – not to mention an impressive on-base percentage.
And for the Cubs, there’s more use to Utley than making him a starting second baseman down the stretch with a postseason berth on the line.
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Utley, 36, is a former first-round pick himself, so he understands the pressure on the likes of Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell. He’s also experienced what it’s like to win games in the clutch, bringing a World Series to the City of Brotherly Love in 2008.
Of late, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon has relied heavily upon Chris Coghlan at second, while the team has won 11 of its last dozen contests – including five-straight. In the win on Tuesday, former starting shortstop Starlin Castro moved to second, making a nice grab in the process.
As we’ve seen already this season, the right mix of young blood and old dogs can be a recipe for success. Due just over $4 million for the rest of the season, Chase Utley may be the final piece to the puzzle for the Chicago Cubs.