If the thought of Chase Utley leaving the Phillies has left you gently rocking back and forth in the corner of your home, silently weeping and cursing at the signed and framed Ruben Amaro picture in your arms, this news should make you feel quite a bit better.
According to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, there are indications the Phils are discussing a contract extension with their franchise second baseman. Salisbury notes that…
• A person with knowledge of the situation says the Phillies have had recent talks with Utley’s representation about a contract extension.
• Word in well-placed baseball circles is that the Phillies are not listening to trade offers for Utley.
• The decision to broaden second-base prospect Cesar Hernandez’ utility skills by having him play some outfield shouldn’t be underestimated, especially upon further review of the comment that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made to CSNPhilly.com on Sunday.
• Amaro was asked point blank if he’d begun to speak with Utley’s representation about an extension.
“We wouldn’t discuss it even if we did,” he said.
He didn’t say no. Amaro isn’t always forthcoming when it comes to matters of negotiations, but he has a way of shooting down the ridiculous. He didn’t shoot this one down.
But that’s not all. Salisbury also noted that the team is promoting Utley on their official website for next week’s series against the Giants. It’s unlikely they’d be promoting him if they were considering trading him. Salisbury also notes the Phils are planning to give out Utley posters during their next homestand. Of course, the team also gave out Hunter Pence bobblehead dolls last year AFTER they traded the right fielder, so take that for what it’s worth.
Finally, Salisbury also notes that Utley and Amaro have been seen “huddled together” around the ballpark in recent days. No doubt they were just trading chicken recipes.
Now, this is all speculation to be sure. But it’s not hard to believe that Amaro would want to re-up his best player, especially considering the dearth of good, quality second basemen around the league.
Of course, signing Utley to a contract extension involves some risk. He is 34 years old and has degenerative problems in both his knees. And although his knees have been healthy this year and his offensive production and defense have returned to typical Chase Utley-like levels, he is a player entering his mid-30s with an injury history.
There is a chance Chase’s knees could blow up at any time. This is not pessimism, this is a fact.
Not only that, if the Phillies were to trade Utley, he could net the team a huge prospect haul in what has become a seller’s market. There will never be a better time to maximize Utley’s trade value than right this very moment.
Those are the cold and hard baseball facts.
However, Chase Utley is not just another Philadelphia Phillie. He is perhaps the second best position player to ever wear a Phillies uniform, after Mike Schmidt. And if he’s not that good, he’s certainly in the conversation along with Richie Ashburn, Ed Delahanty, and Chuck Klein. The rules do no always apply for players like this.
Both Amaro and Dave Montgomery have said they want to hold onto Utley, that they see him as a “Phillie for life.” That sentiment is echoed by almost every Phillies fan out there.
Extending Chase would be a hit with the fanbase and, if he plays another two or three years like he has this year, could propel him into true Hall of Fame consideration.
Sometimes, the best pure “baseball decision” isn’t necessarily the best decision.