Gammons: Utley trade could decide NL pennant

Gammons: Utley trade could decide NL pennant
June 5, 2014, 10:00 am
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Chase Utley leads all NL second basemen in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and doubles. (USA Today Images)

Barring some sort of miraculous turnaround over the next six weeks, the Phillies will be in clear sell mode as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

They have numerous players who could net quality returns in Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick, Marlon Byrd and possibly Antonio Bastardo.

MLB Network's Peter Gammons joined Philly Sports Talk on Wednesday to talk about the Phils' various trade possibilities, and he had an interesting comment regarding Utley's value.

"A general manager said to me that he thought the National League would be decided by whether the Dodgers or the Giants got Chase Utley," said Gammons, who went on to call Utley one of his 15 favorite players in the 43 years he's covered baseball. "There comes a point where you have to think about doing really unpleasant things to completely retool. ...

"In terms of Utley, again, to me, he is the model player, but a team like the Giants, every scout I've talked to tells me they might have the best pitching in Double A of any team in baseball. If you get three pitchers for Chase Utley out of that Giants organization, you have a chance to be -- two years from now -- restore that pitching to where it should be."

The Phils are one of few teams who appear to be clear sellers heading into trade season (and if so, as Jim Salisbury wrote last week, they should consider trading Utley). The only other National League teams out of the race with little reason for optimism at this point are the Cubs and Diamondbacks. Over in the AL, maybe the Indians sell. The Astros are always building for the future.

But it's going to be a seller's market, and the Phillies will probably have the most appealing options for teams looking for a second baseman, shortstop, catcher, closer, or possibly even a corner outfielder.

And if Lee can return from the DL soon enough to make three or four starts before the deadline, he could again command a massive return.

"Cliff is so reliable," Gammons said. "I always kid he's like a guy without a pulse. You bring him in, you know what you're going to get. I mean, obviously, there has to be something monetarily worked out, but I think they can. I think that Cleveland's going to probably trade Justin Masterson, the Royals are not going to trade James Shields, and I think there's a little uncertainty if you trade for a David Price or a Jeff Samardzija. I mean, at least you know what your contract is going to be with Cliff Lee."

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