Phillies sign Utley to 7 year/$85 million extension

Update: From Phillies.com, the official word.

Details forthcoming, but reports have it that the Phillies have signed All-Star second baseman to a 7 year, $85 million contract extension.  No exact terms as of yet.  My first instinct is that I like the deal, but I'd like to see how it's structured first.

Utley is a rare player who provides good defense and terrific offense at a position where the latter is scarce.  He'll only be 34 when the deal ends, which isn't terrible, and he's not an "old player skills" guy so he promises to age pretty well. He and Ryan Howard are the primary and possible sole occupants of that thinning sliver in the Phillies fan Venn diagram that represents the players that performance analysts and old-school fans seem to appreciate with near-equal enthusiasm.

One can make a decent argument that, service time aside, Utley was the more important player to lock-up than Ryan Howard. A power hitting first baseman (even one as tremendous as Howard) can be replaced much more easily than a good fielding, slugging second baseman.

No details yet about the nature of the backloading on the deal, which is the primary concern for me.

Nit-picking a bit at Ruben Amaro Jr.'s statement:

"(Utley)'s a hard-nosed, full-throttle player who exemplifies the spirit of Philadelphia. He is tailor-made for this city and we couldn't be happier to lock him up for years to come."

You know, just once, I wish I were a fan of a team that just put the best players on the field without having to comment on how well they'll be received in Philadelphialand. I realize he's just paying lip service here, but please stop perpetuating this myth. Fans just want a winning team.

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