The long-awaited Chase Utley trade has finally been consummated, with the Phillies announcing that he will be going to the Dodgers for minor leaguers Darnell Sweeney and John Richy, as well as cash considerations.
After over a decade of solid play, Chase Utley has dropped off a cliff this season. His .217/.284/.333 slash line is positively anemic, though to be fair he has dealt with nagging ankle issues and is batting much better in August after his latest stint on the DL. The Phillies are the worst team in the majors, however, and are looking to trade just about everything that isn’t nailed down. Utley was also linked to the Angels, Cubs, and Giants, but as a 10/5 player with a full no-trade clause, he was able to dictate his move.
How much playing time Utley’s actually going to get is an open question. The Dodgers already have a solid second baseman in Howie Kendrick, who has played worlds better than Utley this season, and utility super-sub Kiké Hernandez. But Kendrick hit the DL last week with his notoriously buggy hamstring, and perhaps they want to be able to plug Hernandez in all across the diamond.
Neither of the prospects the Dodgers gave up are particularly highly ranked—though Darnell Sweeney could turn out to be something—meaning the Phillies are mostly in the deal for monetary savings. Utley has about $6 million left on his $15 million contract, but the Phillies will reportedly be sending $4 million along with Utley to cover 2/3 of his remaining salary.
The Dodgers already had by far the highest payroll in baseball, and after the acquisition of Utley it shoots up to an astronomical level, almost $307 million. That’s $90 million more than the next highest spender, the Yankees, and doubles up the seventh highest spender. That of course overstates things as the Dodgers are only paying a fraction of Utley’s salary, but there also aren’t too many team who would throw $2 million at a possibly broken down player who plays a position they already have covered. But the Dodgers are out on their own planet, and there’s nothing wrong with that.