Why Extending Chase Utley is a Smart Move by the Philadelphia Phillies
ESPN reports: "The deal is worth $27 million for two seasons with multiple vesting options, sources told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark."
The deal didn't exactly come as a surprise; Utley has repeatedly said that he wants to remain in Philadelphia, and though there was growing speculation this year, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. did not trade the 34-year-old free agent-to-be at the trade deadline.
While Utley has battled knee injuries in the past and is getting up there in age, there's no doubt that this is a great move for the Phillies.
Utley is batting .275 with 15 home runs and 43 RBI through 83 games and, at 34, remains among the top second basemen in Major League Baseball both at the plate and in the field:
Chase Utley reportedly signed contract extension. Utley has 2nd-most Wins Above Replacement among NL 2nd basemen this year (Matt Carpenter).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 8, 2013
Utley's productivity hasn't dipped at all in recent years, and that was seen once again Wednesday night, as he came in as a pinch-hitter mere hours after reaching the deal and knocked in a run against the Cubs:
Chase Utley is the story of the night. Reaches extension with the Phillies, pinch-hit single scores Mayberry to tie game in 7th.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 8, 2013
Unfortunately, the Phillies lost once again, but Utley did his part once again.
Apart from his on-field contributions, his status as a major fan favorite is just as valuable to the franchise and undoubtedly played just as big a part in the $27 million investment/extension. Such fan favorites ensure that fans will always have reason to keep coming back even through tough times such as now.
Here are but a few of the immediate reactions in the Twittersphere after news broke of the deal:
SHARKS HAVE A WEEK DEDICATED TO CHASE UTLEY— DRUNK PHANATIC (@DrunkPhanatic) August 8, 2013
@Ashley_Knaff yeah i love that site. but not as much as i love the demi-god chase utley.— max (@maxperla) August 8, 2013
CHASE UTLEY'S TEARS CURE CANCER. TOO BAD HE'S NEVER CRIED— DRUNK PHANATIC (@DrunkPhanatic) August 8, 2013
Chase Utley hits harder than [insert Eagles safety here]— Brian Tripp (@psuTripp) August 8, 2013
CHASE UTLEY ONCE WON A GAME OF CONNECT FOUR IN ONLY THREE MOVES— DRUNK PHANATIC (@DrunkPhanatic) August 8, 2013
Now that the Phillies have secured their second base position for another couple seasons, the team will now need to focus on getting younger at other positions.
With Utley, Ryan Howard at first and Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, the team has three infielders who are 33 or older, and all three will be back for a few years.
Amaro made it perfectly clear that he does not want to undergo a rebuilding process just yet, and signing Utley to this $27 million extension proves that once again. Utley is no longer the cornerstone of the team's future (that's Domonic Brown), but he will surely continue to play a key role for the team in the coming years.
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