PHILADELPIHA (AP) — Chase Utley wanted to stick with the Philadelphia Phillies, and they were glad to keep him.
The Phillies have announced a deal with the All-Star second baseman on Thursday that extends through the 2015 season.
The 34-year-old Utley was in the final season of a seven-year, $85 million contract. The new contract is believed to be worth around $27 million for two years with several options.
“I think it’s pretty clear that I’m extremely excited to continue my career here in Philly,” Utley said. “I’ve said it several times, but the fan base here in Philadelphia is the best in all of baseball, and to have the opportunity to play in front of them nightly is special.”
Utley will be 40 if all his options vest and the contract takes him through the 2018 season, making it a likely possibility that he will play his entire career in Philadelphia.
“We wanted him to be a Phillie for life, and that was kind of the goal,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “There’s some risk here obviously because he’s had some issues. We think he’s past those, and hopefully he’ll continue to be the player we expect him to be. I couldn’t be happier and the organization couldn’t be happier.”
Utley spoke after hitting two doubles and scoring twice in a 12-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. The five-time All-Star is batting .280 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs
Utley has never tested the open market and may have left some money on the table, but he claimed that never concerned him.
“I wanted to stay in this uniform, but also I wanted to be treated fairly,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to break the bank. I just wanted to be treated fairly in the marketplace that we were in. … I’ve talked to some guys who have played here in our organization, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”
Utley is playing in his 11th season in the majors, all with the Phillies. He has been slowed by knee trouble in the past, but that hasn’t been a problem this year.
“Chase epitomizes what we’re all about here and what we expect from our Phillies players,” Amaro said. “And the fact that he wanted to stay here, that’s important to us. But more importantly, he’s going to be — and has been — one of the most important parts of our club.”
Utley is one of six Phillies players remaining from the 2008 team that won the franchise’s second World Series title. He then hit five home runs, tying Reggie Jackson’s record, in the 2009 World Series loss to the Yankees.
The Phillies have regressed since then and, at 52-62, will likely miss the playoffs for the second straight season this year. Utley hopes to be a part of the rebuilding process and believes things can turn around quickly.
“We’ve had some great times over the past seven or eight years, and I truly believe we can get back to where we were,” he said.
Utley ranks eighth in Phillies history in home runs (214), eighth in doubles (291), eighth in extra-base hits (546) and first in hit by pitches (154).
For six seasons from 2005-2010, Utley led all major league second basemen in homers (162), RBIs (572), runs (628) and slugging percentage (.523).
Originally selected by his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school in the second round of the 1997 draft, Utley passed up pro ball and attended UCLA. Three years later, the Phillies took him with the 15th overall pick.