Today it was announced that Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley had signed a two-year contract extension that could possibly max out to five years, $75 million. In the eyes of Ruben Amaro Jr. he sees Utley as a part of the Phillies’ future that includes developing the young core that is already in Philadelphia.
Amaro Jr. wants players such as Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, and Domonic Brown to look up to a player like Utley. Utley has been a constant professional on and off the field so him staying in a Phillies uniform for (possibly) the next five years is great news to hear. According to CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury confirmed by a league source, Utley’s contract is a two-year deal that is worth $27 million.
So far this season, Chase Utley has not had many days off and that’s a good sign: during the 2011 and 2012 seasons he missed a total of 138 games. This season, Utley has played in 85 games and has been very productive. He has a .280 batting average with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs. Great numbers for the second baseman as it seems like he is turning the corner. No, he will not be the Utley of old but if he can get to 20 home runs and 80 RBIs for the season, how can you say it was an unsuccessful season for him?
Now the key for Utley will be building off of this season’s performance for the next two years. If he can, then the last three years in his contract will come into play as he has to have at least 500 plate appearances in those seasons.
Right now Utley has 314 plate appearances, so by time this season is over he could top out at 500. The last time Utley had at least 500 plate appearances was in 2009. In that season, Utley had a .282 batting average with 31 home runs and 93 RBIs. It’s simple math: the more time at the plate, the better Utley’s production is.
Now many Phillies fans will disagree with Amaro Jr. saying that this team needs to rebuild for the future and the team better off letting Utley walk in free agency and this past trade deadline, you had the chance to use him as a trade chip. But my question to those Phillies fans is are you comfortable with either Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez as your starting second baseman? Probably not.
Secondly, letting Utley walk is out of the question as he said today, “When Ruben first approached me about an extension, I told him I was up for it. I wanted to stay in this uniform but I also wanted to be treated fairly.” I truly believe Utley when he said that. I mean when you get a Philadelphia athlete to say that he wants to stay you have to keep him. He also knows that on the market he could of got a lot more money but that didn’t matter to him.
Chase Utley just wants to win and he wants to see this organization being committed to winning like they were a few seasons ago. That means it’s time for Ruben Amaro Jr. to step up and make better moves this offseason to bring the Phillies back to relevancy in the NL East. With the Phillies having a 52-62 record, the playoffs are an after thought at this point. So this is definitely a time for Utley and the Phillies to just go out and play baseball. Today, the Phillies actually won a series; they defeated the Chicago Cubs 12-1 to take two out of three from them.
In today’s game, Utley was 2 for 3 with a RBI. In his last 10 games, Utley is batting .306 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Chase Utley is here for the foreseeable future with the Phillies but it will be interesting to see if he stays as a Phillie for life.