Chase Utley finally shut down with season-long ankle injury

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Chase Utley being on pace to surpass the 500 plate appearances necessary to trigger next season’s $15 million is suddenly much less of an issue, as the Phillies placed the 36-year-old second baseman on the disabled list with right ankle inflammation.

Utley has hit .179 in 65 games this season and he originally injured the ankle during offseason workouts in January, but manager Ryne Sandberg was hesitant to blame the former All-Star’s struggles on the injury:

Not really. Because in my communication with Chase throughout the season about playing he’s always been up and willing to go and no real reports of anything holding him back, so I was a little bit surprised by it in some regards.

Utley admitted to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that the ankle has been an issue all season, although he added that “it’s hard to tell” whether it’s to blame for his career-worst performance.

It’s another sad turn in the story of a six-time All-Star who ranks as one of the greatest players in Phillies history and one of the best second basemen of this era, particularly after Utley stayed healthy enough to play 155 games last year and hit .270 with a .746 OPS to make the All-Star team at age 35.

He deserves a better final chapter.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.