The Phillies come into Tuesday with baseball's seventh worst record at 34-41. They're six games back of the NL East lead and 6.5 games back of a wild-card spot with about a half-dozen teams ahead of them. To call getting to the postseason an uphill climb would be an understatement.
Rumblings that the Phillies may finally throw in the towel and sell some players at the trade deadline are growing louder, though there is no indication the team is ready to take that step. If they do decide to sell, second baseman Chase Utley would be their most attractive trade chip. He'd fit wonderfully with teams like the Athletics, Yankees and Dodgers, among others.
Utley is not planning to move anywhere this summer, however. He told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki he has no interest in waiving his full no-trade protection as a 10-and-5 player to facilitate a deal at the deadline.
"Well, you're creating situations that aren't necessarily going to happen," Utley told MLB.com. "I guess we'd have to see at that point, but I don't plan on going anywhere."
"I'm not going to volunteer to go anywhere. Even if somewhere else was the perfect spot, this is what I know. You weigh that against the instant gratification of winning right now. You leave, and there's no guarantee you're going to win anyways. You pack up to leave for a different organization, a different city, and it feels temporary."
Utley, 35, signed a two-year, $25 million extension last year that includes three vesting options worth $15 million each. The options vest with 500 plate appearances in the previous season. Utley could ask that the options be guaranteed as a condition of agreeing to a trade, but that seems like it would make a deal more unlikely given his age.
In 71 games this season, Utley has hit .295/.357/.456 (125 OPS+) with 24 doubles and five home runs. He doesn't steal bases like he did before his knee problems, but Utley remains a tremendously productive player, especially relatively to his position. You can bet more than a few teams will try to convince him to waive his no-trade rights in the coming weeks.