Could Chase Utley Help the San Francisco Giants?


The Major League Baseball trade deadline is long gone, but don’t mind that. Waiver trading is in full effect, and the San Francisco Giants are thought to be scouring the waiver wire looking for ways to improve their team for the stretch run. So far, one of their most prominent targets has been Chase Utley.

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There was a point in time where Utley was the premier second baseman in baseball. From 2005 to 2009, Utley batted .301, and averaged 39 doubles, 29 home runs, and 101 runs batted in per season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Now, Utley is past his prime, and Father Time has not been so kind to the 36-year-old. Over the past five seasons, Utley has averaged only 117 games per season, as injuries have become his main nemesis.

But even during those down years, as far as offensive second baseman go, Utley was still a pretty darn good one when he was on the field. From 2010 to 2014, Utley posted a .270/.355/.435 slash-line, while averaging 23 doubles, 13 home runs, and 60 RBI. Considering all the games missed, those are not bad averages.

2015 started out miserably for the six-time All-Star. He dealt with more nagging injuries for most of the first half of the season, as ankle issues kept him from performing well. When he finally landed on the disabled list on June 22nd, Utley was hitting an unsightly .179 with seven doubles, four home runs, and 25 RBI in 65 games.

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Since returning from the disabled list, Utley says he feels “better than I have in a while“, and since his reinstatement, the Phillies have been “showcasing” Utley, as CSN Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury put it. He has responded well to the increase in playing time, as he has gone 5-13 (.385) in his last four healthy games with three doubles and three RBI.

The Giants aren’t the only team that has shown interest in Utley, as the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Los Angeles Angels have all been linked. Utley has a full no-trade clause, and would have to approve a trade to any proposed team. Utley spends his offseasons living in Bay Area, so a trade to the Giants seems like it would tickle Utley’s fancy.

If San Francisco were to pick up Utley, the veteran would be able to take on a lesser role with the Giants. That lesser role could help to keep Utley healthier, taking some of the pressure off his ailing body parts.

With Joe Panik out, and his immediate future in question, Utley would be a nice insurance policy if Panik were to need more time to rest up his lower back inflammation.

When Panik is able to come back, Utley would be able to move to a bench role, and he would immediately become the best pinch-hitting option. The Giants have been lacking a viable left-handed hitting bench piece, and Utley can fill that void.

In the past, Utley has also played first base. So if Brandon Belt were to suffer another freak injury that has plagued him throughout his career, Utley may be able to fill in there.

Beyond all that, Utley brings a lot of intangibles to the table. He can be a positive veteran presence in the clubhouse, and he’s been in the postseason before. He knows what it takes to win when the lights shine their brightest. Utley has 10 career postseason home runs in 46 games, and has a World Series ring.

In 2008, a trade for Utley would be a blockbuster. It would have changed the course of a season for a team. Utley isn’t the same player he was back then, but he can still make a positive impact on a team. He could be the under-the-radar move that turns the Giants’ fortunes, like they’ve become famous for.

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