Writer’s Roundtable: Should the Phillies give Chase Utley an extension? – Phillies Nation
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Writer’s Roundtable: Should the Phillies give Chase Utley an extension?

Rumors started flying this morning that the Phillies might be nearing a contract extension with Chase Utley. Is this a wise move for the organization? What combination of years-and-dollars would you be comfortable with the Phillies offering Utley?

Chase Utley Jon Nisula: A Chase Utley extension would make sense from Ruben Amaro Jr.’s perspective, but I don’t think it would be right for the club. From Amaro’s point of view, re-signing Utley would mean keeping around the biggest fan favorite and one of the better 2B’s in the league for a few more years. It would do a lot for the PR of the club. But this team needs to rebuild to get back to being perennial contenders, and if trading Utley right now could mean a chance at bringing in the next Jimmy Rollins, that’s the move that’s best for the club.

Pat Gallen: I think it is a wise move, especially knowing that Ruben Amaro will never be a full seller. As our guy Ryan Dinger pointed out on twitter, Utley, if he qualified, would be 5th in baseball among second basemen with a 3.2 WAR. The guy can still flat out play. The hard part is what to offer.

If you re-up Utley, I think you have to trade Jimmy Rollins. You can’t have 3/4 of your infield as aging, breaking-down players making $10 million-plus each. Utley/Howard or Rollins/Howard is enough. That said, I cannot give Utley a third year guarantee. I go 2 years, $32 million with a $10 million vesting option based on plate appearances and not ending up on the DL, similar to what they gave Rollins. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that Amaro has gone overboard on the extra year on deals with several aging players. Now is the time to stay away from that. But overall, bringing Utley back is not a bad thing, provided the price is right.

Ryan Dinger: I’m with Pat on bringing back Utley. The options at 2B around the league are barren and the Phillies don’t have much in MLB-ready talent in the system set to takeover the helm at the second sack. Hernandez might be close, but the team’s willingness to try him at other positions tells me they forecast him as more of a utility player at this point. Some have mentioned that the Phils could acquire a young second baseman in trading Utley. To that, I ask: Why would a team with a second baseman close to ready for everyday big league action trade for someone like Utley? It doesn’t add up.

In terms of what Utley should be offered, I’m more concerned with the years than the average annual value of the contract. As has been reported, the Phils are close on a 3 year/$45M extension for The Man. While that deal is agreeable for me, given Utley’s aforementioned value and the fact that it doesn’t go overboard on years, I’d prefer a deal more along the lines of two years, $35M. In that instance, Utley gets more money upfront, but the team isn’t tied to him and his degenerative knees for too long. The two-year commitment may be wishful thinking on my end, however.

Don McGettigan: Bringing Utley back only makes sense if you truly think you can compete for a World Series title within the time you’d have him under contract, which I don’t think is realistic. This organization seems to lack is a clear blueprint for the future; they went into the 2013 season relying on hope, that somehow their aging core would all perform at-or-above their career averages, and some of the young guys would go above-and-beyond what was expected. It wasn’t a bad plan really, with so many dollars already committed; it made sense to try Michael Young, Delmon Young, etc. instead of committing major dollars to some of the top free agents this past offseason. But it hasn’t worked as expected and resigning Utley (or Carlos Ruiz, or Roy Halladay) means that the 2014 roster will likely be another patch-job. It will leave the Phillies with a .500-ish team, no real influx of young talent into the lightly-regarded farm system, and this time next year the Phillies will be no better, no worse than they are right now.

If they do offer Utley an extension, I wouldn’t go beyond 2 years guaranteed. If Utley would rather test the Free Agent market instead of taking $30M or so guaranteed from the Phillies, they need to know that prior to the trade deadline, so this chatter makes sense…they need to know where he stands (on those deteriorating knees).

Jay Floyd: It will take me exactly two words to explain why re-signing Chase Utley is a bad idea for the Phillies. Cesar Hernandez. The Phils have a 23-year-old Venezuelan born Triple-A All-Star who is ready for the big leagues at Chase Utley’s position. Hernandez, who is batting .310 with two homers and 29 steals in 86 games for Lehigh Valley this year, has the skills and ability to be a starter at the big league level.

The Phillies can’t hold on to all of their aging stars. With Ryan Howard locked in with an unmovable contract and Jimmy Rollins slated to be around at a fair price, it’s the Utleys and the Ruiz’s that will allow the Phils to trim some payroll while getting younger and improving for the future.

Eric Seidman: This is tricky for me. I love Chase Utley, but I don’t really see the point of guaranteeing an injury-prone player $15 million per year for three seasons so the team can go 78-84. On the other hand, he is still worth 3/$45 even as he misses games, and the Phillies really don’t have an answer for the position if he were to leave. At this stage, Utley might benefit the Phillies more as a trade chip than anything else, given how many teams are still technically in the playoff race and how much of a boost he would provide. I would prefer to have him play out the season and for the Phillies to give him the qualifying offer. If he returns, Utley at 1/$13 is fantastic. If he doesn’t, the Phillies get a much needed draft pick. As much as I love the guy, I don’t know that the team needs to guarantee him three years at this stage of his career and in this phase of the organization.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Bob D

    July 25, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Offer Utley arbitration, if they can work out a 2 yr incentive laden contract with option on a 3rd, that would be great and if not they get a draft pick if he walks.
    Hernandez be the backup (as Utley is fragile) or go on to be playing other position,s or as trade bait eventually down the road

    As for patchwork roster in 2014, I don’t see that. Not with Asche/Frandsen at 3B, Rollins, Utley, Howard/Ruf, Kratz/Rupp/Joseph at C, and they have at least 3 quality pitchers in the rotation, Papelbon as closer. If the team goes out and adds a top OF with Brown and Revere and some bullpen and maybe another SP they can contend.

    I actually think a Rollins trade may help bring in a quality player in return and they can use Galvis without much drop off (just as good fielder and not much worst bat).

    • jobangone

      July 25, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      When the subject of aging stars is broached I liked Andy Reids policy. At some point, no matter their history, all players must be replaced. I feel this situation is an indictment of the Phils farm system or lack thereof. Aside from 3/4 of the infield, the team never seems capable of spelling a player with someone from the farm ala the St. Louis Cardinals who seem to have a knack for developing players. I fear the fans should prepare for a valley before climbing the summit again.

      • xxLouA

        July 25, 2013 at 7:32 pm

        then why did AR keep the dogman around? if all needed to be replaced. Now someone else has to deal with this piece of crap
        sorry man but didn’t make sense
        now they should arbitrate with Utley

      • schmenkman

        July 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        It’s called a qualifying offer — there is no arbitraror involved.

        As for the statement that all players must be replaced, it’s like saying all years must at some point end. Was he any more specific, like “while they still have high value”, or “even if they are still the best option”?

  2. Nick M

    July 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

    No one is talking about how lefthanded this lineup will be. Don’t compare him to other secondbase options, compare him to where he will hit in the lineup. (2 or 6) If you bring him back you have Revere and Utley hitting one and two. You are stuck with Howard so that means two more lefties (Brown) hitting 4 and 5. So who is the righty hitting third? Jimmy Rollins again? Keep in mind that next years thridbasemen Cody Asche is also a lefty. Here is the best lineup I can think of with Utley back.

    Revere L
    Rollins S
    Brown L
    Howard L
    Ruf R (or some other righty OF with power)
    Utley L
    Asche L
    Kratz R

    So left-handed, but not bad.

    Here is without Outlay
    Revere L
    Herenedez or Galvis – S
    Brown L
    Howard L
    Ruf R (or some other righty OF with power)
    Rollins S
    Asche L
    Kratz R

    Or leave Rollins at two and move Asche to six…but then 7 and 8 are Hernendez/Galvis and Kratz.

    So which one gets more production:
    Rollins hitting 2 and Utley hitting 6
    OR
    Hernendez hitting 2 and Rollins hitting 6

    I love Utley and I don’t think anyone would be disapointed if he was extended but it just really handcuffs you because of where he can hit in the lineup and because he is lefthanded.

    They really need some righties in this lineup. If there is any possibility of getting Constanzo from Detroit for Papplebon I would do that in a heartbeat. (I would even throw in someone young like Ruf to sweeten that deal…although I like Ruf and it will be interesting to see how he plays the rest of the year. It’s looking like those power numbers last year were flukey. Still think he is a good hitter, just maybe not a middle of the lineup guy. Constanzo can mash.)

    • schmenkman

      July 26, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Mike, those are good points, but to be honest I’d rather have a good hitter than a RH one and then worry about how to sort the lineup. Research has shown that the order makes little difference in total production.

      On your question of which gets more production, the two aren’t even in the same ballpark, the one with Utley gets much more production (based on the current view of Hernandez) than the one without.

    • Josh

      July 26, 2013 at 9:50 am

      “So which one gets more production: Rollins hitting 2 and Utley hitting 6 OR Hernendez hitting 2 and Rollins hitting 6”

      Is this a joke? No one in their right mind thinks hernendez is a offensive replacement over Utley.

      And I understand the lineup being being to lefty (even though I think in general, this is overrated) the problem wouldn’t be having utley in that lineup. the problem would be Howard and our manager not understanding that 1st base should be platooned.

      Also if your argument was cost effectiveness, I would understand hernendez over utley (Although not agree) the aguement for offensive upgrade is laughable.

      • Nick Marmarou

        July 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

        Of course Utley is better than Hernendez but the point I am trying to make is the problem is Rollins and Howard and you are stuck with both of them.

        I honestly believe Hernendez can give you more in the 2 hole than Rollins can. J-Roll has lost his power (5 HR) speed (10 SB…although he has been hitting 3rd so running less) and his batting average is .262. I don’t see him getting better in the two hole next year and I think Hernendez is better fit to hit second than Rollins is in 2014.

        That being said, Rollins in the 6 hole does nothing for me either. I think Utley would be better suited there. But when you compare his production to other 6 hole hitters around the league and consider the fact of age, injury risk and the money it will cost, it is still a difficult decision. (The Cubs got almost identical production out of Nate Scheirholtz for a lot less money) That being said, his bat is still productive and everyone loves the way he plays. What is hurting them is Rollins and Howard. I am just concerned that in 2015 and 2016 we will be saying the same things about Utley that we are saying about Rollins. “doesn’t fit in the lineup, makes too much money and untradeable”

      • schmenkman

        July 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

        When Utley plays, he’s one of the top 15 position players in baseball (WAR per game).

        I honestly don’t see him going from that, to what you desribe in the last sentence, so quickly.

  3. George

    July 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    For me, the available information is too sketchy to be debating this.

    Utley is a productive player and would be difficult to replace, as evidenced by the stopgaps they’ve used when he’s been injured. The injuries, however, should play a role in any extension talks, or in fact, any thoughts on making the team more competetive.

    I won’t say anything about whether he should be extended without knowing the following:

    1. How long an extension and for how much?
    2. What can they get in trade?
    3. Who can replace him? Hernandez does not have the same skills. He can play 2nd, but Utley’s other attributes would have to be compensated for at other positions. Can the Phils find a good OBP man with power? Can they upgrade some other position, like RF, so that the loss of Utley’s production won’t mean as much?

    An extension could be 3/$17M, which would likely be too much. It could be for 2/30, which would probably be better for the team than any other move.Trading him for a prospect, even a highly rated one, might be too little, or that prospect, like so many others, might not work out.

    More information is needed.

  4. Lefty

    July 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    You’ll have to forgive as I’ve been sick for the past week. I haven’t read through all the comments, but my first impulse is yes, they should try to extend Chase Utley. When thinking of replaceable positions on the team, As I scan through the oufield, the left side of the infield, behind the plate, and then over to the right side, I see the best position player we have.
    Based on that, sure you have to try to sign him. We all know he’s never going to be “young” Utley again, but he’s still really hard to replace.

    I also agree that we don’t have enough information and won’t repeat all that George said above, you can read it there.

    All that said, If the right deal comes along, a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the club substantially for many years, you gotta listen up.

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