It turns out Chase Utley could be in Philadelphia a lot longer than two years. How does 2018 sound?
Thanks to the unique structure of Utley’s new contract, it could happen. While the extension only guarantees the five-time All Star two more years with the Phillies, if he manages to stay healthy it could go as long as five.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has obtained the details behind Utley’s vesting options, revealing a deal that works out almost closer to a football player’s contract. We’ll leave the ‘splaining to the hot-shot reporter on this one:
Utley will receive $15 million guaranteed in 2014 and $10 million in ’15, sources said. He also can earn an additional $5 million in ’15 if he is not on the DL for more than 15 days with specified knee condition. The contract also includes a $2 million buyout and a full no-trade clause.
The formula for Utley’s vesting options is straightforward: He needs to reach 500 plate appearances in 2015 to guarantee himself a $15 million salary in ’16. The same math applies in [’17 and ’18], when Utley will be 39.
If Utley falls short of 500 plate appearances in any of those seasons, his option would revert to a conditional club option, sources said. The value of those options would range from $5 million to $11 million, depending upon how many days he spent on the disabled list the previous season.
The value of those options will depend upon how many days he spent on the disabled list the previous season.
It would take a fairly extended absence – roughly two months – for Utley not to reach 500 plate appearances in a given year, at least as long as he continues batting near the top of the order. While he failed to reach 500 the previous two seasons, he managed to surpass that threshold in 2010, making it to 511 despite playing in just 115 games.
Gotta like that the Phillies still have the option to keep Utley at a discount even in the event injuries prevent him from reaching those goals. If his contract had come up last season, I’m not sure there would have been as much interest in re-signing him. The 34 year old is having quite the bounce-back year after rehabbing those knees though, proving injury was behind his sharp decline in recent years.
Obviously if Utley manages to stay on the field, yet his production drops as he gets older, the deal could eventually turn bad for the Phillies much later on. That combination of events seems somewhat unlikely where we stand today though.
Very interesting structure for a baseball deal, but it seems like a very sensible deal for both sides. Utley gets some assurance he can remain with the club beyond the two years, and the Phils have plenty of outs if it’s no longer working out.