The Philadelphia Phillies made a strong statement on Wednesday about the future of their franchise by signing second baseman Chase Utley to a two-year contract extension. The deal will pay Utley around $13 million per season and keep him in Philadelphia through the 2015 season. Utley was set to become a free agent after this year.
The Phillies are not contending this year and have a bloated payroll. Utley’s name was tossed around as a potential target for contending teams leading up to baseball’s trade deadline. But the 34-year-old wasn’t moved and will apparently be in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
Utley is currently hitting .275, with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .336 on-base percentage. Additionally, his OPS of .841 is his highest since he posted a .905 OPS in 2009. The UCLA product also has a WAR of 2.9 in 83 games.
Utley has had trouble staying healthy in recent years, as he played just 115 games in 2010, 103 in 2011 and 83 in all of 2012. This year he has largely avoided the injury bug.
He is making $15 million this season and his new contract was reportedly modeled after Carlos Beltran’s two-year, $26 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Phillies drafted Utley out of UCLA with the 15th pick in the 2000 MLB Draft and he has been with the franchise for his entire career. He is a five-time All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger winner and helped lead Philadelphia to a World Series title in 2008.
It probably would have been an awful public relations move for the Phillies to let Utley go. He is incredibly popular with fans and he clearly wanted to continue playing in Philadelphia. This seems like a solid move for all parties involved.