Phillies, Utley Reach Contract Agreement
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.”