The Toronto Blue Jays have obtained less offensive production from their second basemen than any major-league team this year.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Blue Jays will consider upgrades at the position should they become available. They may even have interest in one of the most recognizable players out there.
The Blue Jays will be one of the teams involved in trade discussions about Chase Utley if the Philadelphia Phillies make the 34-year-old available this summer, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported Friday morning.
The Blue Jays are “said to be considering possible upgrades” for their starting rotation as well as at second base, Olney wrote.
Utley, a left-handed hitter, has 11 home runs and a .282/.349/.521/.870 batting line in 238 plate appearances so far in 2013.
He would represent an upgrade for many teams, including the Blue Jays. Toronto’s second basemen – mainly Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio – have combined to hit just .222/.256/.321/.577 in 2013. The group ranks last or second-last in MLB in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Utley will earn $15 million in 2013 before hitting free agency this winter. His contract allows him to block trades to 21 teams each year.
It's not known if the Blue Jays are one of the teams to which Utley can block a trade. Even if they are on the list, a trade would be possible.
From a financial standpoint it might be in Utley’s best interest to waive his no-trade clause. If he’s traded he’ll be ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after the season. Players who turn down qualifying offers to sign elsewhere become linked to draft picks, so a trade would ensure that draft pick compensation does not limit his leverage on the open market.
It seems unlikely that Utley would clear waivers, so Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. likely has until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to determine whether to make a deal.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have also been linked to Utley this summer. The Oakland Athletics do not yet have a home run from their second basemen and could also be intrigued by the Pasadena, California native.