Baseball's best second baseman is a Philadelphia Phillie through the 2013 season, as Chase Utley and the Phillies agreed to a seven-year, $85 million contract announced Sunday morning. The contract covers Utley's three arbitration years and first four years of free agency.
Utley, now symbolically locked in as Philadelphia's new cornerstone athlete, hit .309 with 40 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 131 runs scored last season, unbelievably his first complete season as a full-time player. He also assembled a 35-game hitting streak (June 23-August 3), which tied for the 10th-longest in major league history. Utley became just the 15th player in major league history -- and second Phillie -- to compile a .300 average, 200 hits, 30 home runs, 100 RBI, 40 doubles and 130 runs in one season. Hardball Times rates him as the most productive second baseman in baseball. Over the past two seasons (2005-06), Utley leads all major league second basemen in home runs (57), RBI (197), hits (350) and runs (217).
Utley was originally selected by the Phillies in the first round of the 2000 draft out of UCLA (15th overall). He has spent his entire professional career with the club and owns a .290 career average with 75 home runs and 285 RBI in 444 games.
Beerleaguer: It would be impossible to love the deal, or the player, any more. Cheers to the Phillies for restoring our faith, and to Utley for reigniting our passion. What a tremendous, tremendous boost for the Phillies organization.
Two arbitration cases remain in Geoff Geary and Brett Myers, and a raise for Ryan Howard still looms. How this deal will impact the historically frugal Phillies' pockets remains to be seen. Pat Burrell, still the highest-paid player, could also land back on the market, in addition to Jon Lieber, who's due to make $7.5 million.