Recent reports out of Philadelphia have provided Phillies fans with music to their ears. Chase Utley, who most fans thought was a sure bet to be traded by the deadline, appears to be close to signing a contract extension to possibly play out the rest of his career as a Phil. The amount of years and dollars has not been released, but it is thought that Chase Utley would require at least a three-year commitment to forgo his free agency and stay in South Philly. A three-year deal with a player option for a fourth year is the most likely scenario, however that fourth year may come back to haunt the Phillies.
Still, keeping Chase Utley around may be the best option for the Phillies. He is the biggest fan favorite on the team. His style of play endears him to fans, and these days in Philadelphia, he is the one good thing happening with the club. Chase Utley has rebounded well from his injuries the last few seasons. His average is above .280, and he and Domonic Brown seem to be the only power sources in the once prolific Phillies lineup. Brown is on record as saying that Utley has had a significant impact on his All-Star season.
Chase Utley’s worth may be more in his silent leadership than his actual play on the field. With the Phillies certainly to sell in the next week a youth movement looks to be beginning for the club. Utley may be the key to helping transition what is left of the Phillies prospects into professionals. Sure, if the Phillies commit to him for three or four years, they are banking on him being as productive in the future as he has been this season and, to be honest, that would be a best-case scenario. Chase Utley may never be able to produce on the level he has in the past. He was on pace for a possible Hall of Fame career until injuries crept in four seasons ago. That production now is an afterthought, but Chase Utley still has much more value to the team than he would if they traded him away.
For now, it’s only rumors, but Chase Utley’s reps have had discussions this week with the club, and expectations are for a deal to be completed sooner rather than later. Some people may see signing Chase Utley as a deterrent from the youth movement that needs to happen in Philadelphia. I see it as an overall positive for the Fightins. They get to maintain the past while also keeping a huge part of the current lineup around for the future.