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Chase Utley may be ready to go

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After long refusing to waive his no-trade rights, the Phils' second baseman says he may be more open to being dealt to another team.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn't made sense to a lot of us, the fact that Chase Utley would be so adamant about remaining a Philadelphia Phillie this season.

Everyone knew that, from the very first pitch in spring training, the Phils weren't going to be all that good. The team itself finally admitted that the rebuilding process had begun, and it didn't make sense to many why Utley would want to stay and play out his final years on a team that had no chance of reaching the postseason.

Of course, baseball is played by players who, by all accounts, are living, breathing human beings. They have families and children and cats and dogs (and in Utley's case probably about 200 dogs) and business partnerships and emotional ties that are very difficult from which to remove yourself.

Utley won his ring. And for most of the year, it seemed as though the convenience of remaining in Philadelphia was of more importance to him than trying to latch on to a contender for one more shot at a parade.

After all, moving is a bitch.

But now, with Chase back and seemingly healthy (he had two doubles in the Phillies 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres Saturday night), it appears as though he may be willing to wave his 10-5 rights in order for the Phils to facilitate a trade that would send him elsewhere. Utley told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki...

"Like I've said all along, I would be more than happy to listen to them," Utley said. "I do love Philadelphia. I've had a great time playing here, but out of respect for them, I would definitely listen to them."

To be fair, Utley has never ruled out the possibility of leaving via a trade, but had always affirmed his strong desire to remain a Phillie. But his stint on the disabled list has changed things, namely that his 2016 option will not vest, so the situation is much different now.

Because he is not guaranteed a contract at the end of this year, and because he is 36 years old on a team that plans to get younger, he will not be a Philadelphia Phillie next season. He will be a free agent. And without the security of another year in Philadelphia upon which to hang his hat, perhaps now Utley realizes the time is right for a move.

After all, the Phils are intrigued by the production of Cesar Hernandez, who has hit .285/.360/.372 with 17 stolen bases with a wRC+ of 106 and an fWAR of 1.6. It's still not clear if Hernandez is the long term solution at second (his sub-par defense hurts him), but it's pretty obvious Utley isn't.

Of course, trading Utley will be no easy task. He's gotten off to a decent start in his two games since coming off the DL (3-for-9, two doubles, two runs scored), and he says he's fully healthy. A solid week of game action likely means there will be some interest. The Chicago Cubs were said to have inquired about him before the trade deadline, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe said three teams have been interested; the Cubs, Yankees and Angels.

But now it's August, and trading Utley gets much trickier. Chase must now clear waivers before he can be offered up to anyone. All 30 teams will get a chance to make a claim on Utley, with National League teams getting first crack at him, starting with the league's worst team. Seeing as how Chicago was interested before the deadline, there's a good chance they could put in a claim, leaving the Yankees and Angels out in the cold.

But it's also possible another team could put in a claim before the Cubs, say, the San Francisco Giants, the team currently right behind Chicago in the NL wild card standings. The Giants may not even want him, but could put in a claim in order to block the Cubs from getting him.

If that happens, and the Phils can't work out a deal with San Francisco, they can either allow the Giants to have him and pay the rest of his salary with no compensation back to the Phillies, or they can pull him off waivers and keep him for the rest of the year.

If he does get to Chicago, or the Yankees or Angels, the same rules apply. In other words, it is much harder to get a deal done now than it was in July.

That being said, one of the larger obstacles to moving Utley had been his 10-5 rights and reluctance to leave Philadelphia. If that is changing, one of the many obstacles to dealing him is moved out of the way.

The odds are probably better that he stays with the Phils until the end of the season. And if that's the case, we have only a month and a half to say goodbye to one of the greatest players to ever wear a Phillies uniform.