Rollins and Utley and Howard... together for at least two more years? The Phillies may be negotiating with second baseman Chase Utley on a contract extension. CSNPhilly's Jim Salisbury had a few indications in his piece last night.
• A person with knowledge of the situation says the Phillies have had recent talks with Utley’s representation about a contract extension.
• Word in well-placed baseball circles is that the Phillies are not listening to trade offers for Utley.
• The decision to broaden second-base prospect Cesar Hernandez’ utility skills by having him play some outfield shouldn’t be underestimated, especially upon further review of the comment that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made to CSNPhilly.com on Sunday.
“If we’re fortunate enough to keep Chase in our uniform, which we hope to do, Cesar becomes a utility piece,” Amaro said Sunday.
So would this make sense for a rebuilding Phillies to do?
Why is extending Utley a bad idea?
Let's start with Utley's fielding. His .966 fielding percentage with 12 errors is a pace that would be the worst defensively of his career. I do not think this is due to Utley's knees (more later) but his hands. I do not think Utley is as sharp as he once was. I would seriously consider playing Utley in right field if he stays.
Bad knees. Utley has averaged just 100 1/3 games a year for the last three years. To commit $15 million a year on a position that you will be without the player for more than a third of the season is not a good idea. Utley has rebounded nicely this season from injury but not without one stint on the disabled list. This could be a regular occurance for Utley.
Why is extending Utley a good idea?
Everybody loves Chase Utley. Having him around would evoke good memories of the past, and we could continue to love him until closer until the end of his career, if not his whole career.
Grit, leadership by example. Chase Utley could make the team better with his non-stop passion on the field.
So is it worth it?
It appears that non-baseball reasons are driving these contract talks. One advantage with Utley over say, Ryan Howard, is that there does not appear to be an obligation to bat Utley in a particular spot like Jimmy Rollins in the top three and Ryan Howard cemented batting fourth. If Utley is willing to play a different position down the road and will hit whereever the team needs him (second, sixth?) then I will be okay with it.
No matter what, I do not think anyone else will ever wear number 26 ever again.