Utley agrees to seven-year, $85M extension
PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley is quite comfortable with long-term deals.
One day after getting married, Utley agreed Sunday to an $85 million, seven-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, who can keep three-fourths of their infield in place for the rest of the decade.
"Chase puts up very good individual numbers, but at the same time, he's a team player," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said.
Utley hit .309 last season with 40 doubles, 32 homers, 102 RBIs and 131 runs. He also had a 35-game hitting streak that tied for the 10th-longest in major league history and longest by a second baseman.
After making $500,000 last year, Utley gets a $2 million signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million this year, $7.5 million in 2008, $11 million in 2009 and $15 million in each of the final seasons.
"Chase is a pretty special player," Gillick said. "The commitment speaks for itself."
Utley, who must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized, would have been eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. Utley was not available for comment because he was on his honeymoon, surely a disappointment for his female fan club, "Chase's Chicks."
It is believed the Cardinals' Albert Pujols is the only other player who got a seven-year contract after just three years of major league service. Pujols and St. Louis agreed to a $100 million, seven-year contract that began in 2004.
"When the Phillies came to us with a multiyear deal of this length and magnitude, it made it very easy for Chase to accept, given that he loves Philadelphia, wanted to stay in Philadelphia and is hoping to retire in Philadelphia," said Utley's agent, Arn Tellem. "He is excited about the team's prospects and nucleus and feels they can be competitive for the term of this contract and beyond, He was very appreciative of the security this early in his career, and he was willing to give the Phillies a break in the free-agent years."
"Those are the type of guys you want on your club if you're going to win on a daily basis," Gillick said of the trio, all All-Stars.
Gillick said the Phillies are in no rush to sign Howard, who hit .313 with 58 homers and 149 RBIs in his first full season as the starting first baseman.
"We think the world of Ryan. He's a wonderful talent, a wonderful kid," Gillick said. "Certainly there will be a day where he'll be rewarded. It might be this year, or it might be down the line."
Utley also became the 15th player in major league history -- and second on the Phillies -- to hit .300, and record 200 hits, 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, 40 doubles and 130 runs in one season. He and Hall of Famer Chuck Klein (1930 and 1932) are the only Phillies to accomplish the feat.
Over the past two seasons, Utley led major league second basemen in homers (57), RBIs (197), hits (350) and runs (217). He was Philadelphia's first-round pick in the 2000 amateur draft.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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