Phillies, Utley Reach Contract Agreement

Chase UtleyChase Utley barreled into Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro on a play at the plate in the seventh inning in tonight’s 5-2 loss to the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies fans will get to see more hustle and body-be-damned plays like that from Utley in coming seasons. A source told MLB.com the Phillies and Utley have agreed on a two-year contract extension. There are reports it is in the $25-$30 million range with vesting options for more years.

“I love Philadelphia,” said Utley, who declined to address the extension in specifics. “I’ve always envisioned playing here. I’ve never envisioned playing anywhere else. I hope that remains a possibility.”

“He’s pretty much the face of the franchise,” Cole Hamels said. “He does things right. He’s done things right since Day 1. He’s the typical Philly athlete and Philly ballplayer. He maxes out every day and you have to give him credit. That’s what’s fun to watch. Being a teammate, feeling confident knowing that I’m playing with one of the best second basemen in the game. I feel pretty comfortable and obviously pretty happy that he’s still going to be here.”

The Phillies and Utley have been discussing an extension for some time with Ruben Amaro Jr. saying frequently in the past month he wanted Utley to be a “Phillie for life.”

Utley said just before the All-Star break he saw pieces on the roster he believed could help the Phillies win in the future. Since then the Phillies have played poorly, completely falling out of postseason contention, but Utley said his feelings on the organization’s ability to win haven’t changed.

“Obviously right now we have a few guys that are banged up, that aren’t on the field, some of our main contributors,” Utley said. “But we have some solid pieces. Obviously, we all want to improve and I think everybody in this room can improve. So I like what I see. Obviously we have to play better baseball, though.”

Utley entered the night hitting .275 with 16 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .505 slugging percentage this season. His slugging is his best since a .509 mark in 2009. His .841 OPS is his best since a .905 mark in 2009.

If he had enough plate appearances to qualify his OPS would rank third among 18 big-league second basemen.

When Utley is healthy he remains one of the best second basemen in baseball, but his health has been a problem in recent years. He missed much of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees, although this season the Phillies have said Utley has not appeared on their daily injury report with knee issues.

Utley missed a month this season because of a strained oblique, but that was considered more of a freak injury than anything else.

“I’ve felt good all the way since I came back last year,” Utley said. “I feel like the program that have been doing has worked. I’ve been able to stay on the field for the most part and be fairly productive. I plan on continuing to do that.”

21 Comments

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You would think that Ruin has learned by now that an MLB team cannot thrive relying on the aged and the handicapped. Utley has missed only 215 games over the last 4 years. If Utley shows up for work every day for the rest of the season, he will have missed 33% of his work days over the last 4 seasons. Nice work if you can get it.

Where is the hometown discount? Seems we overpaid here on past performance as we did with Jimmy. While a good player I do not hold Utley on the mantle with true great Phillies players. His body of work is short a few chapters IMO. I just hope we aren’t being held down by this hefty contract while living through another episode of Utley’s health woes for two more seasons.

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Go find an available second baseman with a WAR anywhere close to Utley’s. Go on then. I’ll wait here.

How do you factor in the games he missed while on the DL? How do the Phillies as a team stack up to the rest of the league for production from all who have played 2nd base for them?

This article from Fangraphs sums it up nicely actually.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/in-support-of-a-ruben-amaro-transaction/

Not really. It does not answer my basic question. How do all those playing second base for the Phillies stack up against the league average? What value is an 11 WAR over the last several years when Utley has missed 215 games, well over a full season?

Did you read the whole thing? One of the biggest points was that Utley’s contributions, despite not playing full seasons, are still better than a majority of contracts signed by similar players recently. Also that a majority of the games he missed were in 11 and 12 and that he has, in fact, trended upwards in the last 365 days and otherwise hasn’t really shown signs of a decline. You’re trying to look at his replacements only when you should be looking at the position as a whole. Him being there, for at least part of a season, is better than him not being there at all.

Also – read the contract specifics before you freak out. He’s making $5MM less in 15 than he will in 14 and the vesting options are all based on getting 500 PA (which he hasn’t done since 09). The club options if he fails to do so are in the 5-11MM range. Deep breaths people.

From where are you getting the contract specifics?

I’m happier now that I’ve seen the specificas, but I still have problems with the signing. Due to Utley’s history, we need to carry a good level backup who can play every day. A minor leaguer to fill in for 2 weeks won’t cut it. In other words, he’s taking up 2 spots on the 25 man roster. If we bring up a kid kike Hernendez in this role, he’s spending too much time on bench to develop, if we reply on an old vet (like M Young) we’re paying too much money for a part time player. We’d have been better off either going all in for Cano, or all in on one of the kids. Next year is a wash in any case as we retool which takes two years at best

Getting Cano would be insane. You would rather pay 27MM a year for Cano than 27MM for 2 years of Utley when we need to upgrade our offense, overhaul the bullpen, and find a couple of starting pitchers? Getting Cano is also a longshot – so what would your backup plan be if we didn’t sign him? Lastly – go look at Utley’s numbers (or read the fangraphs article I linked earlier). He actually hasn’t declined and has trended slightly upward in the past year.

As I said, its not about his numbers when he’s on the field, its about the need to plan on him NOT being o the field at least 1/3 of the season, meaning you need to pay him, plus a good level bench player to play 2B. I agree that Cano will cost a fortune, but at least you don’t need to carry anything other then a u guy like Galvis. The Phillies obviously don’t thnk we have anything in the minors clse to ready (so what are they doing down there, exactly?)

In any case, Chase is back for 2 years, so no point dicussing what may have been

Why is everybody assuming that Chase is going to miss chunks of time? He seems to have his knee issues under control. The time his missed, this year, was a fluke that could have happened to any of the players. Yes, I know he’ll be 35. Yes, he’s not the player he was a few seasons ago. But there are few players who can hit 300 for their whole careers. He’s still one of the best 2nd basemen out there. And who better to mentor our young guns, while we’re rebuilding, over the next couple of years?!
For those who haven’t read the specifics, of the contract, please do! Lots of safeguards in place, for the team.
I know it’s a frustrating season, and we’re all venting. But try to find some positives, once in a while!

Thanks Norma. Well posted!

Chase is the heart and soul of the clubhouse, replacing him there would be impossible and at a time like this, the Phils will need their leaders to step up show the kids howto deal with this kind of adversity.

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