Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, each of whom the Phillies would happily trade away if the right offer comes along, are likely not going anywhere.
You can book your trip to Clearwater, Florida for February and March with the expectation that the Phillies longtime double play combination will be right there where you’ve come to expect to see them, at 2nd base and shortstop respectively.
There have been talks regarding both players. Strong rumors have suggested that Rollins could have been traded to the Mets as recently as last month.
So if there is interest from other teams, and there is interest on the Phillies end to shed their salaries and move away from the ghosts of 2008, what’s the holdup?
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The key dynamic is that both players hold 10-and-5 rights. Any player with 10 years in Major League Baseball of which at least the most recent 5 years have been spent with the same team can veto any trade.
GM Ruben Amaro recently told MLB.com Phillies insider Todd Zolecki that both Rollins and Utley have made it known that they are not willing to waive those 10 and 5 rights, calling it “a challenge” as the team tries to turn the page on its recent glorious past.
When asked by Zolecki how specifically having the two around impacts opportunities for younger players, Amaro said: “I don’t know that their playing time is necessarily blocking anybody else’s.”
I don’t know that their playing time is necessarily blocking anybody else’s
The fact remains that the Phillies do not have any MLB-ready prospects in their minor league system close enough developmentally to challenge either veteran in 2015.
Both Utley and Rollins are franchise icons. Both were originally signed by the team, came up through the Phils minor league system, broke into the Majors here, and became World Series champions together.
Chase Utley was the Phillies 1st Round Draft pick in 2000, the 15th pick overall. He received his promotion in 2003, and has been the full-time starter at 2nd base since 2005.
Jimmy Rollins was the Phillies 2nd Round Draft pick in 1996, and was called up for the first time in 2000. He has been the full-time starter at shortstop since 2001.
So for the last full decade, the Utley-Rollins pairing has been the Phillies Keystone Combo. Now they apparently will have at least one final go-around in 2015.
Both players have contracts which expire at the end of the coming season, though Utley does have vesting options which kick-in if he reaches at least 500 plate appearances. Those options continue into 2018, should that PA level continue to be reached.