Chase Utley will be in a Phillies uniform for at least two more years. Now that it is official, here is a breakdown of Chase Utley's truly unique Phillies contract extension.
Utley's contract is guaranteed at 2 years/$27 million. He will receive $15 million guaranteed in 2014 and $10 million guaranteed in 2015. The contract also includes a $2 million buyout and a full no-trade clause, bringing him to $27 million in guaranteed dollars over two years. He also can earn an additional $5 million in 2015 if he is not on the DL for more than 15 days with a specific knee issue.
Utley then has three vesting options based on 500 plate appearances: if he reaches 500 plate appearances in 2015 he will make a guaranteed $15 million in 2016. The following two seasons are treated the same way. If Utley hits the 500 PA's in any of those seasons and finishes the year on the disabled list, he must pass a physical that states he will be able to start the following season healthy for the option to vest.
If Utley does not reach the 500-plate appearance threshold, the Phillies can still bring him back on a club option. The options are set at $5 million, $7 million, $9 million or $11 million, based on days on the active roster. For instance, if Utley is active for 125 days he would receive $11 million the following season, and the option decreases with fewer days on the active roster.
All told, Utley can make as little as $27 million over two years and as much as $75 million over 5 years.
The contract is a great one for the Phillies. If Utley's knees fall off this season, the Phillies are only locked in for $27 million, which is just $2 million more than Lee and Howard make this year alone. If Utley is hurt, the options allow the Phillies to decide just how much they are willing to pay to keep him. If Utley is healthy, the Phillies pay $15 million per season for one of the most productive second basemen in baseball. Compare that to Robinson Cano, who stands to land a contract in the range of $20 million per year over seven years guaranteed, and you can see how reasonable a deal this becomes.
The deal is especially beneficial when considering the second-basemen who are scheduled to become free agents beyond Utley and Cano: Omar Infante is hitting .309 with 6 HRs for the Tigers and Kelly Johnson is hitting .252 with 14 HRs for the Rays. Neither players comes close to providing Utley's production.
On Chase Utley's side, as he put it, "I'm just trying to be treated fairly in the marketplace." Utley could have undoubtedly earned more in the open market, but he wanted to stay in Philadelphia and wanted to earn his money, which is an awfully strange thing to say about a ballplayer in this day and age. If he plays he gets paid, it is just that simple.
This contract speaks volumes about the character of Chase Utley. As far as I am concerned, he signed this for us. Next week, I will discuss how rare and special a signing this was from such a rare and special player.
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