Not surprising to most, the Phillies may look to start trading some of the players they can get the most value for in return this season. Some of those players that stand out as trade candidates are the ones with contracts expiring at the end of this season - like Chase Utley. If Utley can continue performing well, he will make for a nice trade target come July.
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com says the Phillies' struggles this season may lead the club to unload some of its players in hopes of rebuilding. They started to do that last season then suddenly started winning. If they were to look for trade candidates this year, Castrovince says Utley would be a prime candidate.
If things don't improve, the Phillies might make their noise in July, when Utley and the two Youngs, all pending free agents, could become trade candidates.
Utley spent much of the last couple seasons on the disabled list. In 2012, he suffered a knee injury during spring training. That injury limited Utley to only 83 games last season. In 2011, Utley battled tendinitis and a concussion. Both 2011 and 2012 were understandably down years for Utley.
A career .288/.375/.500 hitter, Utley failed to break .260 with his batting average in 2011 and 2012. So far this season, though, he appears to be back. Utley is hitting .290/.345/.520. If he can keep those numbers up, he will attract a lot of attention come July. Teams are always on the lookout for hard-hitting middle-infielders.
At 34 years old, Utley has plenty of baseball left. However, teams interested in trading for him will have to weight the posibility of injury. Utley has not played in more than 115 games since 2009. That could change this season if he remains healthy, but the limited action over the past three seasons would be a concern for most GMs. Utley is making $15 million this season. While he likely wouldn't command that on his next contract, he certainly won't play for peanuts. So, for a GM to pull the trigger on a trade, they will have to be confident in his health.
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