Phillies Need a Center Fielder, A’s Need a Second Baseman: Chris Young for Chase Utley

Allow me to begin by saying this trade proposal has not been made, the teams likely have not discussed this, and this is purely my own speculation. Yet, to follow up on the “The Most Obvious Trade that Needs to Happen,” as written by FanGraphs.com last month, it now makes more sense than ever.

I’m not by any means giving up on Grant Green as potentially the A’s second baseman of the future, but having started his big league career 0-for-9 with a pair of errors in his first 12 opportunities, I’m also not willing to let the A’s playoff hopes ride on his young shoulders. Let’s allow Green to continue working on his defense in Sacramento until September, and then call him up when rosters expand to learn from the veteran leadership in the Majors at that point.

That veteran leadership, I’m now sold on, should be Chase Utley. The 34-year old veteran is exactly what other reports said he was, exactly what Oakland needs. He’s a solid offensive contributor with playoff experience and the intangibles the A’s need from a veteran leader to help guide his younger teammates through the rigors of the stretch drive and the competition of October baseball.

He’s been bathed in champagne more than any current member of the A’s roster. He’s tasted championship caliber baseball. He’s an owner of a World Series ring!

Further, he’s on a team that just lost their center fielder, Ben Revere, for the next six to eight weeks. The A’s happen to have an extra one sitting around in Chris Young. The dots finally connect.

Utley is earning $15 million this year, a steep price for sure. Young is earning $11 million, though. Send Young along with a mid-level prospect, perhaps a C+ grade prospect, maybe do a little better and go B-, and eat the remainder of Utley’s contract. Done deal. Right?

The Phillies still shed some payroll, get a prospect in return and replace their center fielder. The A’s swap out an under-performing player at a position of strength and add to a position of weakness. And hey, they happen to have Michael Choice waiting in Sacramento who can come up and fill that fourth outfielder role if necessary.

It certainly beats the alternative, letting Young walk at the end of the season for no compensation, and losing his $1.5 million buyout. The $4 million difference in salaries between Utley and Young is nearly a wash when you consider the half season they would be on the hook for and the $1.5 million they’d still lose in letting Young walk. It’s basically just a $500,000 swing for Oakland when put that way. Of course, that also needs to be taken into consideration for Philadelphia, but that’s why we’re including a prospect to get the deal done.

Philadelphia gets a center fielder more than capable of holding down the position for the remainder of the season, and the A’s get their veteran leader at second base, a clear upgrade over Eric Sogard and Green, and a boost to their offense.

Young would likely see a surge in his statistics moving back to the National League and to the bandbox that is Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia.

How would this lineup look for Oakland:

CF: Coco Crisp
SS: Jed Lowrie
3B: Josh Donaldson
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
1B: Brandon Moss / Nate Freiman
2B: Chase Utley
RF: Josh Reddick
DH: Seth Smith
C: Derek Norris

Bench: Eric Sogard, Moss/Freiman, Norris/Jaso, Michael Choice

And of course shuffling around a little to add John Jaso, who typically bats second when in the lineup, in for Norris.

Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis held down the position earlier this season for Philadelphia when Utley was out, the Phillies could plug either of them back into their lineup to hold them over until the offseason. At just 6.5 games out, the Phillies aren’t necessarily sellers, yet, but the case could still be made that the younger Chris Young, will serve them better down the stretch than sticking with Utley. Ironically, the opposite is true for Oakland, Utley would serve them much better than sticking with Young.

If it was the “The Most Obvious Trade That Needs To Happen” less than a month ago, it’s multiplied now with Revere’s injury. It’s no longer a one-sided need. Both teams need each other now. They need to connect on this trade.

Chris Young for Chase Utley. It’s a win-win for both sides.

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