The Cleveland Indians continue shopping on the clearance racks with the hope of finding useful MLB talent for discount contracts. The latest rumor from Jon Heyman has the Tribe checking in on the demands of veteran second baseman Chase Utley who was most recently with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The issue is that there is not an obvious fit for Utley on the Indians, and he is 38 years old. So, why would the Tribe be interested and where would he fit into the lineup?
Here is the internal WFNY Slack conversation after the rumor hit our newsfeeds. The discussion has been lightly edited for clarity.
nom 11:13am Heyman is saying the Indians are interested in Chase Utley. It makes no sense to me but whatever.
hattery 11:30am Super weird.
hattery 3:22pm Ken Rosenthal also reporting the Indians are interested in Utley. Weird.
mgbode 3:40pm He did slightly better than I thought last year, but I still don’t get it.
scott 3:40pm Kipnis to center field to bring back the Arizona State Sun Devil days.
craig 3:41pm If it keeps Michael Martinez away…
scott 3:42pm Word.
Indians are intrigued a bit by chase utley. Not a perfect fit, though, as they have a star lhh 2B, kipnis.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 8, 2017
mgbode 3:46pm M-Mart on the 25-man is the new Jesus Aguilar on the 40-man roster.
nom 3:48pm I don’t get the interest in Utley. Does this mean they have zero faith in Michael Brantley? Moving J-Ram to left field is a waste of a good defender. Does this also mean they have little faith in Yandy Diaz?
mgbode 3:49pm I think the organization showed how much faith they have in Diaz last September.
hattery 3:49pm Talking about Brantley doing tee work in February is a big sign.
mgbode 3:50pm If no Brantley in 2017, then Utley could share 1B/DH with Edwin Encarnacion. Move Carlos Santana to left field. Santana then spends some days at DH to allow whatever random outfield spillover needs some at bats.
hattery 3:51pm How much third base has Utley played?
mgbode 3:51pm His arm sucks. Might as well put Kipnis there, which we also shouldn’t do. Utley only played two innings in 2016 and 25 innings in 2015 at third base. That is the extent of his time at the hot corner.
hattery 3:53pm He is athletic enough to play left field. Left field in Cleveland is easy enough, and he could make a nice platoon partner with Diaz.
mgbode 3:53pm He has never played the outfield and is 38 years old. I think Santana makes more sense there if we are giving up a spot.
hattery 3:54 Lol. I was about to say the exact opposite. I like Santana’s athleticism, but I’m going the middle infielder over the chunky corner bat every time. Also, I want Santana to lead-off, which means I want his body as relaxed as possible for his plate appearances.
mgbode 3:56pm Even if we think a Diaz-Utley platoon works, does the organization believe in him enough to make it happen?
hattery 3:57pm I think they do. There are people in the organization that speak highly of him.
mgbode 3:59pm If Diaz does make 25-man, then what a crowded cluster we have even before we add Utley. I suppose if we assume A-Jax and Brantley are not anywhere near healthy enough, then it clears some of it up.
hattery 4:03pm It’s a mess, man. But, maybe this move is all about building depth for a really good roster.
mgbode 4:03pm Utley’s bat (97 wRC+ in 2016) is a nice back of the bench option. That’s pretty undeniable. It’s just that it seems odd to waste a roster spot on it.
hattery 4:03pm Seven relievers with a loaded bench can make the 25-man roster even more unbeatable. The Indians front office leveraging the new 10-day DL could make it seem as if the Indians still have an eight-man pen too.
jtpete 4:08pm If Utley can play second and if left is so easy, then wouldn’t Kipnis make a better, more athletic fit in a left platoon? Most of his playing time could still come at second base. My problem with is that Utley can’t play short, and Yandy isn’t a shortstop. Martinez or Gonzalez might be needed as the utility man. Do we have a roster spot? Or this rumor is just baby poop with a new mystery team popping up in the rumor mill.
15 players which means at least two need to go (Brantley and A-Jax not being healthy leaves it at 13).
nom 4:14pm It seems insane to me hte Tribe is still looking at luxury infielders and not SP depth.
mgbode 4:15pm The great thing here is we are arguing about how to fit a league average bat onto the roster to replace potentially one of the worst hitters in MLB history (M-Mart).
jtpete 4:20pm Utley seems to be a typical Francona veteran. Late in his career, has sway in the locker room. smart player, will understand his role, and be a guy that only gets a few at bats. In other words, a veteran that will swallow up a spot and keep the guys I want off the damn roster.
joshpoloha 4:36pm When I saw that the Indians were interested in Utley, I immediately thought of his impact in the clubhouse way before what he can do on the field.