Detroit Tigers trade rumors: Chase Utley edition

The Detroit Tigers were put on notice this week as to how aggressive the powers that be at MLB will go after suspected PED violators. Jhonny Peralta’s name has been on the list since its release, just like Ryan Braun’s was, and there it remains.

Any day now, any hour really, the anvil could drop on Peralta. The penalty for a first-time offender is a 50-game suspension. Peralta’s case is a bit more complex than the average bear.

He not only is the clear option at shortstop for a team that expects to be playing meaningful games deep into October, but he’s having a strong bounce back season on the cusp of his free agency.

detroit tigers trade rumors

Chase Utley

The Tigers are 99 games into their 2013 season. 63 remain. Hopefully this is all one big misunderstanding and Peralta is free of any guilt, but that remains to be seen. In the event that he is guilty as charged, let’s look at the potential fallout.

Detroit doesn’t really have a player to replace Peralta at short, assuming Omar Infante remains at second base, his most natural position. How valuable could Danny Worth be? Or fellow minor leaguer Argenis Diaz? The drop-off would be substantial.

Would Peralta take the 50-game suspension so as not to cut his own free agency throat, and become eligible again just before the playoffs commence? How rusty would he be? Would he really do that to Detroit? What if it takes another few weeks for his verdict to come down and now he’s done for the rest of the regular season? If he appeals the decision, how long would that process take? These are some of the questions being floated around buzzing offices at Comerica Park.

How aggressively can the Tigers chase a contingency plan? See what I did there? One idea that might have some merit is targeting Philadelphia’s Chase Utley, a rock solid 2nd baseman. With that, Infante could slide over to short, a position he has played before, and order could be restored. And it’s not as if Infante is a master of turning the double play with a runner flying at him with bad intentions (see Colby Rasmus incident). He might welcome the position change.

Utley is heading into his free agency year, just like Peralta and Infante are. With the Phillies scuffling this year they would be potentially wise to grab a few prospects in exchange for Utley while they can, and who knows, they might re-sign him in the offseason and get the face of their franchise right back.

Utley has long battled injuries but is a dynamic player when he is on the field. He is hitting .286 for the Phils with 13 homers, 36 RBI’s, and 7 steals. He plays some highlight reel 2nd base to boot. He is making north of $15M this season, a pro-rated price tag the Tigers could easily pick up.

The Tigers would probably have to cough up something substantial in return to acquire Utley for the stretch run. Perhaps a package involving Avisail Garcia and one of the Tigers’ up and coming pitchers such as Jake Thompson. The Tigers might also consider delivering one of their young catchers as part of a deal. There are options.

If Peralta is forced out for one reason or another, Utley would provide smooth cover to that transition. He could slide right into Jhonny’s 6th slot in the batting order and the Tigers would still be in business up the middle.

The problem remains that the Tigers really can’t pull this trigger until they are made privy to the fate of Peralta. Could you imagine the clear admission of guilt if the Tigers made such a deal before any announcement on Peralta is made?

Indeed, the timing is overly awkward. The Tigers could be left holding a big, empty bag if they don’t have the right information.

It sure would be nice to know what is being said off the record right now.

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  • Capt Scully

    Philly fans love him, he wants to stay in Philly. That makes him the only one on that team I wouldn’t trade. Can I interest you in something in a Rollins maybe?

    • Joe White

      Haha. Good stuff. Yes, perhaps Rollins would do the trick…

  • Joe White

    I love the passion, especially you Doug!!
    This is more intended to be a ‘what if’ article rather than a ‘what should happen’ article. No matter what, if Jhonny gets suspended things will get interesting.

  • itsfun

    Garcia is hitting over 400 since being sent back to Toledo, I would never trade him for a old 2nd baseman. Worth is a very very good defensive shortstop. With the offensive power the Tigers have, they should be able to win with his bat. He is hitting over 270 since returning from his foot injury and has been hitting better the more he plays. I think Martinez is on the last year of his contract. The Tigers have Garcia and a young left fielder (cant spell his name) that are just about ready for the Majors. I can see Jim Leyland using of them as sharing the DH position with Fielder and Caberea. The left fielder also plays 3rd base, so you could in a way rotate him, Caberea and Fielder at 3r, 1st, and DH. This way all three are in the lineup ever day and are getting a day of rest by DHing as Jim Leyland sees fit. Garcia could play left field daily with Andy Dirks spelling the 3 outfielders when needed.

  • Doug

    @Jim – Utley has not played a full season since 2009 with declining stats in every season. We already have a second baseman. You want to risk moving Infante to SS (who knows if his D will ne acceptable there) and hope Utley stays healthy for two months until he hits the free agent market and at the same time give up a few valuable parts of our future?

    No guarantees we win the WS even if we do acquire Utley. What does he increase are odds by? Very little. It’s a crap shoot when you get into the playoffs. In baseball an All-Star team could get knocked out in the first round. It’s as much about luck as talent from my observation of the expanded playoff format. I’d rather the Tigers get there hands on a good fielding SS, on the cheap, from a team just to looking to shed payroll and leave Infante where he belongs.

    Utley is a bad gamble.

  • BobWhite

    I do not see Johnny escaping this one.

  • Jim

    Chase Utley would be the best move we could make to win a World Series. The guy is not only an excellent fielder and hitter but is also one of the hardest working best leaders in the game. If anyone doubts tho check out the Philly fans who would jump off a bridge if they lost this legend.

  • Doug

    And furthermore…..if the tigers have to give up the players you mentioned to get Utley, screw it.

  • Doug

    So Braun falls on his sword knowing the Brewers are going nowhere and he’s battling injuries anyway. In doing do puts the taint directly on the back of other players, some of whom play for teams fighting for a title. So is this how Bud Selig justice works?

    The most notorious user of all and his team lose little while contending teams with plenty to lose are screwed? I’m not sure who I despise more, Braun or the “powers that be” if this is how it goes down.

  • Ryan Heilala

    No, focus on trading for bullpen help. Infante has started his rehab stint recently..we have Eugenio Suarez in the minors right now that can come up. Wouldn’t hurt to have another switch hitting batter in the lineup too.

    • Joe White

      I’ve written about the bullpen too much. Needed to shift gears. Suarez probably isn’t ready and isn’t next in line.