Coming into play today, the New York Yankees find themselves a mere 2 1/2 games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays. The Bombers will be going in for the kill tonight, attempting to sweep the Jays right out of New York, and place themselves squarely in a position to overtake their divisional foes. The non-waiver trading deadline is six weeks from now, and while the Yankees are starting to gain some momentum–and some ground in the standings, it’s time to strike and make the necessary moves to ensure the 2014 Yankees bring home an AL Eastern Division title, and perhaps more.
Enter once again, the Philadelphia Phillies and Chase Utley. Yesterday, we discussed how left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee could be back on the Yankees’ radar, as the team is in dire need of another top-of-the-rotation starter, and the history of the Yankees’ interest in Lee has been well documented. Today, we turn our attention to the other glaring need for the Bronx Bombers, as a lack of production out of Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson has forced Brian Cashman into the market for a middle infielder.
Utley is currently hitting over .300, has 5 home runs, and driven in 33. Compared to Roberts’ .231/3/14, Utley would be an immediate upgrade. Joel Sherman of the NY Post recently wrote about how the Yankees need to take advantage of the short right field porch in the Bronx. Recall for a moment, Utley’s body of work during the 2009 World Series in the Bronx. While he is now older (35), and is under contract for a couple more seasons if he meets his vesting options at an expensive price ($15 million per each season that vests), the Yankees for some reason, have no intention of giving an affordable youngster like Jose Pirela a shot to perform on the big stage.
That leaves Cashman and Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro six weeks to figure it out. Utley would have to be willing to waive his 10-and-5 rights to accept any trade. The Phillies in reality, are now a crumbled dynasty of missed opportunity. One title with this core is far less than the Philly faithful ever envisioned. The Big Three of Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins have run their course. Utley still possesses the skills to help a contender get over the top. Utley, while being arguably the most popular player in his city over the past decade, wants to win, and sitting in Mike Schmidt‘s shoes at the end of this run cannot be setting well with Utley.
What would it take to pry a wrong-side-of-30 second baseman away from an also-ran? Depending on how much of the contract the Yankees would be willing to eat, would depend on how much Philly gets back. They already have their heir apparent to Utley waiting in the wings in Cesar Hernandez, who by all accounts, is ready for the Show now. Amaro would probably be looking for a starting pitcher, a catcher to replace the aging Carlos Ruiz, and perhaps a outfielder.
The pitching end of things might be tough for the Yankees to produce, but, perhaps a Rafael DePaula would suffice. Let the Phillies take their choice of catching prospects, other than the now-troubled Gary Sanchez. And as for outfielders, nobody would be off limits other than Aaron Judge or Peter O’Brien. The more money the Bombers can take on, the less talent will be leaving an already thin farm system. It’s something to think about. The idea situation would be to just promote Pirela and be done with it, but again, until Cashman shows some faith in his own prospects, be prepared to see aging, overpriced stars coming to the Bronx via the trade route.