Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…
The countdown for Chase Utley’s return to the Phillies’ lineup is finally upon us.
According to CSNPhilly.com, Utley will begin an official minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with High-A Clearwater. The 33-year-old second baseman began playing in extended spring training games last week, but this will be his first real game action since the Phillies lost to the Cardinals in the NLDS last October.
Utley will be eased into action as the designated hitter before testing his knee by playing the field. Position players are given a 20-day rehab window, so assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks physically, the latest he’ll return to the Phillies is July 2. This sets him up for a potential season debut on July 3 against the Mets. Look for the Phillies to give him as much rehab time as possible.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.