The Phillies and their longtime second baseman, fan favorite, and face of the franchise Chase Utley, have officially inked a contract extension for two years and $27m.
The biggest obstacle to this deal were Utley's knees and overall healthiness. He missed 47 games in 2010 due to a thumb injury he sustained while sliding into second base. He missed 59 games in 2011 and 79 games in 2012 due to chronic knee issues. Earlier this season he missed 26 games due to an oblique injury. And that is why this deal contains three options related to Utley's abilities to stay on the field. Each of the three options is worth $15m, and they all vest if he reaches 500 plate appearances in the previous year. You can read further details about the options as explained by Ken Rosenthal right here. Utley has hit .277/.337/.505 this year.
I've said it on this site and I've said it on Twitter -- I cannot imagine Chase Utley in another uniform. Ever. And while it's still a possibility, I don't have to deal with those thoughts for another two years. He is my favorite player. I love watching him swing a bat and field a ball. I love the way he plays the game. From top to bottom, he is a complete player, and he has always been a delight to watch. Howard Megdal wrote a story last week that pointed out that Chase Utley doesn't have to actually physically be a Phillie for life in order for him to be considered a lifelong Phillie or even retire as one. But for me, he does have to be. Seeing him play anywhere else would break my heart. That's entirely selfish and unfair to the whole "winning games" and "smart business" thing the Phillies try to do, but it doesn't make it any less true for me. Sometimes, your love of a player transcends sense and logic. So it is with me and Chase Utley.
We'll have full and glorious Utley coverage over the next few days, including a full breakdown of his contract and a selection of career highlights. I invite everyone to post their reactions below or write up a fanpost about their favorite Utley moment. There is no such thing as too much Utley coverage.
I'll close with this, which reflects how many feel about Chase Utley, The Man himself.