PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley raised the Phillies cap from his head and acknowledged the fans standing and cheering for him behind the Phils' dugout following Wednesday night's 7-4 win over the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park.
Utley descended the steps and quietly disappeared into the clubhouse. It would be his last time in a Phillies uniform.
The Phillies announced they had traded their iconic second baseman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Minor League prospects Darnell Sweeney, who is a Triple-A infielder/outfielder, and John Richy, who is a Class A right-hander. Sweeney, ranked the 11th-best prospect in Philadelphia's Minor League organization according to MLBPipeline.com, already has been promoted to take Utley's spot on the roster. Richy slots in at No. 30 on the Phillies' Top 30 list.
FOXSports.com reported the Phils will pay $4 million of the $6 million owed Utley through the end of the season, which includes a $2 million buyout on a 2016 club option.
"I'm not necessarily an emotional guy," Utley said in a news conference. "But this city's meant a lot to me over the years. I think everyone knows my love and affection for the city. It was a very, very difficult decision for me and my family to go. It's not so much changing uniforms, it's about leaving this city, which has given so much to me over the 12 or 13 years I've been here."
Utley waived his no-trade rights to join the Dodgers, who are his hometown team. He grew up in Long Beach, Calif. Utley attended a 1988 World Series game at Dodger Stadium with his father. He attended UCLA before the Phils selected him in the first round of the 2000 Draft.
"Three weeks ago or so, I had a conversation with [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.]," Utley said. "We put our heads together and decided it might be best for us to part ways. I gave them a list of a handful of teams that I would consider playing for, and then it was Ruben's job to find the best deal he could for the organization. And ultimately it came down to the Dodgers, a team I grew up watching."
"Chase is an iconic, generational player here in Philadelphia, and arguably one of the most popular and most successful players we've ever had in our organization," Amaro said. "To have to take him away from our organization and put him in another one is not what I'd consider to be particularly gratifying. But I can say that I believe this is the best thing for all parties at this stage of the Phillies development and this stage of Chase's career."
Utley leaves the Phillies as their greatest second baseman, and one of the most popular athletes in Philadelphia history. He ranks in the top 10 in franchise history in hits, doubles, home runs, extra-base hits, RBIs, games and walks. Utley helped the Phils win five consecutive National League East titles from 2007-11, two NL pennants and one World Series title.
Utley set a standard for hard-nosed play, which Phillies fans loved.
"I don't think we're going to be around all night so we can go through all the great memories we had here, but obviously winning the World Series here in 2008," Utley said about his greatest memories. "Nothing is better than that. The way the city reacted to that team was truly special, something I will never forget. Going down Broad Street after winning the World Series was an amazing feeling.
"But … it's time."
Utley's locker had been cleared out by the time he spoke to reporters. His bags had been packed. Utley eventually left the ballpark with his wife Jen and his son Ben.
The Phillies move on. Utley moves on. But the memories linger.
"I don't think it has totally set in yet that I'm not going to be around here for the rest of the year," Utley said. "I don't know. Time will tell. But both myself and my family were comfortable with this decision."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.