There was a time when it looked like Chase Utley was a sure fire bet for the Hall of Fame; and while he may eventually be enshrined one day, he no longer seems to be a part of the Phillies' future.
Is Utley still team's everyday 2B upon return? "Not for me he's not," Amaro said. "Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman."— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) July 7, 2015
Utley has dealt with injuries over the last few seasons, but he's remarkably been able to rebound from each one, and return to above average levels of production. However in 2015 that's no longer the case. In 249 plate appearances this season, Utley has posted career worsts in many offensive categories. His slash line is .179/.257/.275 with a wOBA of .234 and a wRC+ of 43. His fWAR has plummeted to -1.3, which represents the first time Utley has ever produced a negative value.
Regardless of when he returns from the disabled list, Utley doesn't figure to be a major factor for Philadelphia; likely for two reasons. The first is the surprisingly good play of Cesar Hernandez. In his first two stints in the major leagues, he combined for an fWAR of -0.8, but in 2015 it's 1.3. In 212 plate appearances, Hernandez's slash line is .301/.386/.383, with a wOBA of .344 and a wRC+ of 119; all of which represent upgrades over Utley's performance.
Hernandez's improvements couldn't have come at a better time for the Phillies, as they can talk about his play being the cause for Utley's benching, rather than having to dance around the subject of contract obligations; which is the second reason Utley won't see regular playing time. If he were to reach 500 plate appearances in 2015, his 15 million dollar vesting option would be triggered, and further delay the rebuilding process that Andy MacPhail will eventually embark on once the season has ended.
With Amaro's comments, it might be in both parties best interests to work out a trade. The Phillies clearly aren't contending this season, and could do Utley a favor by eating the remainder of his salary (roughly $7 million) and sending him to a team that's looking for a complimentary infield piece to come off the bench. It remains to be seen how Amaro will handle the deadline as it approaches, but if a team calls asking about Utley's availability, the Phillies should listen.