Trev's piece today about the recent
blind speculation news about Chase Utley possibly being in extension negotiations with the Phillies got me thinking about the precise question that Trev tried to answer. Why would Utley stay here past this year?
Here's Trev's take on it:
Also, Chase would actually have a reasonable incentive to sign an extension with the Phillies now -- he could expect a Qualifying Offer from the team, if they don't trade him, and being tied to a draft pick would likely limit his market value fairly significantly, a la Kyle Lohse. Secondly, it can't be great to be the "other" 2B on the market when Robinson Cano is getting his first big deal. And third, if he can wrangle a fairly modest 3/36 out of Ruben, there's likely to be some solid surplus value for him at the end of the deal.
I'll grant Trev the financial aspect of this, but I still am not so sure there's reason for Utley to stay with the Phillies. By the end of this contract, Utley will have made just over $85,500,000 in his baseball career. That's a lot of money, and although I've heard that Utley has an amazing three-story condo overlooking Washington Square West, I am pretty confident that he's set for life and has not squandered his riches. So, at this point in his life, are the financial considerations that would differentiate a $30 million deal from a $50 million deal from a $70 million deal really that important to him?
If not, then what will be? I love Utley, and he has at times seemed to love the Phillies and Philadelphia, especially in that wonderful post-World Series speech. But, I've never gotten a sense from him that he is that invested in being a Philadelphia lifer. He's connected here, no doubt, but I just don't feel that he's passionate about this franchise. For the most part, I feel like he could be happy (or stoic or whatever emotion it is he feels) anywhere.
So if he's financially set for life and he's happy in Philadelphia but not unreasonably-emotionally attached to the franchise, then what else matters? I would think what matters is winning. And if winning matters, aren't there other franchises that will give him a better opportunity to win over the next two to five years than here in Philadelphia?
As my co-bloggers pointed out via email today when I voiced the same concerns, all is not lost here with the Phillies in the immediate future. But, they need a lot to go right in order to be seriously competitive again anytime soon. Of course, I will hope beyond hope that those things go right, but if you're Utley, wouldn't you be interested in a franchise where you don't have to cross your fingers and pray to Baseba'al for the next few years? Wouldn't you seek out an opportunity that is more of a sure thing (as close as that gets in baseball)?
In other words, if money isn't your concern and you can go anywhere for the first time in a long time, wouldn't you explore your options for winning rather than settle for what you know?