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Giants reportedly scouting Chase Utley

This isn't just Joe Panik insurance. It's Hector-Sanchez-in-the-ninth-inning insurance.

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Oh, how Chase Utley made sense for the Giants last year. He tore up the National League in the first half, and the Giants were screwing around with Dan Uggla. There was no way the Giants were going to, like, call up a random rookie and use him to win the World Series. They needed Utley. They didn't get him.

However, with Joe Panik's back injury, the Giants could probably use Utley again. While Panik is expected to return soon, backs are finicky jerks. That means we get one more sweet rumor before trade seasons officially melts away. From CSN Philly:

The Giants had a scout in San Diego for the entire Phillies series and sources tell that the scout was indeed keeping tabs on Utley.


It would be shocking — shocking — if Utley declined a trade to San Francisco. One, the Giants are a contending team. And two, Utley and his family reside in the San Francisco area in the offseason.

I excised a couple sentences up there for brevity and clarity, but one of them was "Hmmm." I can expand on that.



Utley has been one of the very worst players in baseball this year -- almost as much of a liability as Angel Pagan according to WAR, but in half the at-bats. He's hitting .189/.263/.294. He went 8-for-53 in June, then disappeared onto the DL with ankle problems. It's possible the scout at the Phillies game filed his report already.


Don't forget that June series against the Giants in which Utley kept taking those bizarre, motionless-head swings.:


Still, 75 percent of the old Utley is still an excellent player. The Giants' scout(s) were reportedly there to see if Utley is a shell of himself, or if there are still some meaty bits in the shell. A relatively healthy Utley could be a blessing.

Utley isn't going to reach his 2016 vesting option, so the Giants would be on the hook for a few million for the rest of this season, with a $2 million buyout for next season. His option would be about $8 million for next season, depending on if he spends more time on the DL, which the Giants would almost certainly decline. He's on waivers now, and while he'll probably sneak through, I'll take a wild guess that the Giants might actually consider claiming him.

If this is a real thing and not an idle rumor, it doesn't have to be because Panik is in rough shape. The Giants could use Utley as a pinch-hitter (and DH in the World Series, y'all). It would be a very expensive pinch-hitter, mind you, but you'll contribute to the Kickstarter after watching Hector Sanchez's ghastly, unforgivable at-bat against Hector Rondon on Sunday. If Utley, even this version, ever had an at-bat that awful, he would eat his bat and bury himself in the dirt behind home plate, never to be seen again. The problem would fix itself.

There are a few problems with this idea, most of them involving actually having to look at Chase Utley, but if the Giants are willing to eat the money, I'm for it. If they're more interested in the Phillies eating that money in exchange for a better prospect, I'm much less for it.

As long as the Giants are spending money instead of prospects on Utley, though, what's there to lose? At the very least, it would bug the crap out of Phillies fans. Tell me that's not a worthwhile goal.

This, my friends, is an interesting post-deadline rumor that makes a fair amount of sense. That's how you know it probably won't happen, but at least you're not thinking about that Cubs series right n ... aw, dang it.