Hutchings said: "Leighton can step up. I know Wayne Bridge is injured and he will now be in contention with Nicky Shorey and Ashley Cole. Now he has to get himself fit and become a regular.
"I know he thought he could move up to that level. I just wish it had been with us.
"He deserves a lot of credit. We took him here when Everton let him go at 14 and he has come up through all of the junior and youth teams.
"It's a great testament to their ability, but Leighton had to do it for himself. He got an opportunity and took it."
Baines is almost certain to miss the clash with his former employers on Saturday because of a hamstring injury and Hutchings added: "I wanted to keep him here, but Everton met his valuation."