Seattle Mariners Free Agent Target: Chase Utley

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The Seattle Mariners have been mentioned in an article by Joel Sherman as having interest in free agent second baseman Chase Utley.

That statement should raise a few eyebrows for several reasons.  Chase Utley is a second baseman.  The Seattle Mariners have a second baseman on an expensive contract ($24 million per year) for the next seven years in one, Robinson Cano.  Chase Utley is a 36 year old journeyman that has spent 13 years in the National League.   Adding to that, Chase Utley has been suspended two games for breaking Ruben Tejada’s leg in what has been called a dirty slide into second base.

Oct 10, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) collides with Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley (26) at second base during the seventh inning in game two of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It could be that Jerry Dipoto just doing his due diligence and checking in on all the desirable free agents on his list.  Then again, there could be some real interest in Chase.   Well let’s take a look at a few things.

The 6-foot-1, 190 pound, Long Beach, California product has had quite a career.  He played 12 and a half seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.  On August 20th he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the playoff run.  His career slash line of .281/.365/.479 shows that historically has been a very good offensive player from the left side.  However, his 2015 campaign between Philadelphia and Los Angeles resulted in a slash line of .212/.286/.343.  A significant drop from his career numbers.  It’s possible that Jerry Dipoto believes that Chase isn’t done yet offensively and could add another solid bat to the lineup.  Chase had an ankle injury in early 2015 that may have affected him in his 2015 campaign.  At one point he landed on the disabled list because of it.  If there’s a chance he can return to his 2014 numbers, that is appealing.  His 4.5 WAR in 2014 and slash line of .270/.339/.407 is very attractive.

It is possible that the Seattle Mariners have thought about moving Robinson Cano to a different position.  This interest in Utley leads us to believe that Robinson Cano may not be a fixture at second base for the Seattle Mariners.  Bob Dutton reported the following on twitter.

But it is very doubtful that they would make this move this soon.  Robinson Cano is most likely the second baseman for the Mariners for the foreseeable future.

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Chase Utley has played more than just second base.  He’s played first base, second base, and third base.  It very well could be that the Mariners are looking at Chase as their first baseman.  It’s no secret that Jerry Dipoto has traded Mark Trumbo once before when he was with the Angels.  Jerry Crasnick has reported that several executives have indicated that Jerry Dipoto may again trade Trumbo this offseason.

Chase Utley has been a gritty player his entire career.  The fact that he broke Ruben Tejada’s leg should not define his career.  He’s been a great player.  He’s been an All-Star six times and won four silver sluggers.  Chase Utley is someone who could easily change the everyday tone in the clubhouse and on the field.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers declined Chase’s $15 million option for 2016.  His 2015 numbers, the suspension, and the declining from the Dodgers makes it likely he will come at a lower price.  Depending on what that price is, the Mariners could very well be interested in his services.

Whether you disliked the hard nosed play that broke Tejada’s leg or not, you should see that signing Chase Utley can be a very positive thing for this team.  That is of course, if he regresses closer to his normal numbers.  Batting in a lineup with Cano and Cruz can be very helpful as well.  Seeing someone take someone else out is an appalling thing.  But it is a baseball play and has been a baseball play since the game began.  It would be a welcome sight to see Chase Utley in a Seattle Mariners uniform in 2016.