Be honest with yourself, you love Chase Utley. You love Chase Utley, I love Chase Utley, literally it is impossible if you are a Phillies fan too not like Chase Utley. But that isn’t the only reason its great news that the Phillies and Utley reportedly came to an agreement on a 2 year contract extension with a possible 3rd year thanks to multiple vesting options. The deal is said to be worth $27 million, $13.5 million a season according to Jon Heyman.
First the figures work. Don’t kid yourself; Chase Utley is the face of the franchise. He plays the game the right way, is a veteran presence in the locker room, and still an above average second basemen. Because of that, the Phillies were never going to give Utley a 1 year contract offer with a vesting option. It would’ve been a complete slap in the face, much like when Paul Molitor got low balled by the Milwaukee Brewers back in 1992 (a move that would haunt the Phillies because he dominated in the 93’ World Series). The Phillies weren’t going to make the same mistake the Brewers made, and it would be hard to offer Utley less of a deal after giving franchise mainstay Jimmy Rollins a 3 year deal with a 4th year vesting option back in 2012.
Giving Chase Utley $13.5 isn’t overpaying for Utley at all, in fact, it’s what the market demands for an elite second basemen. A look around the league shows guys like Dan Uggla making $13 million this season, Robinson Cano making $15 million, and Ian Kinsler, who’s numbers are very comparable to Utley, is getting paid $13 million this season and $16 million in the next two years. The Phillies didn’t overpay for Utley in this case, and if you look at the contract that is expiring, Utley is actually taking less, going from $15 million this season to $13.5 for the next two.
Utley is having his best season with the Phillies in three years. He has already played in as many games this season as he did last season, and he looks healthy. His batting average is up 19 points from last, he’s scored more runs, and hit more home runs then last year. How could the Phillies justify not signing the fan favorite to an extension, when the play on the field justifies it?
Another likely factor in the extension IS the fact that Utley is a fan favorite. Everyone in Philadelphia respects Chase Utley because of his strong work ethic and his baseball IQ. It’s hard to replace those intangibles on the free agent market. The fans recognize this and, already growing tired of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, might riot in the streets if the Phillies allowed Utley to walk. With attendance numbers dropping quicker than the Phillies in the standings, the Phillies front office realizes that letting Utley go would definitely impact the attendance numbers. Even at the age of 34, Chase Utley is a player that Philadelphia will pay to see.
The five time All Star, and four time Silver Slugger winner is here to stay for at least two more seasons and it was the right move. But there’s always another side to things. Take a look at the reason why the Utley deal was bad, and why the Phillies should have let him walk