Chase Utley’s new two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies is worth $27 million. But if the second baseman stays healthy, he can max out at five years, $75 million, according to major-league sources.
Utley, who turns 35 on Dec. 17, received three vesting options, each worth $15 million, on top of his two guaranteed years, sources said. Each of his options will vest at 500 plate appearances, a figure that Utley has not exceeded since 2009.
Yet, difficult as it may be for Utley to get his additional years, his deal contains far more upside than the two-year, $26 million free-agent contracts that the St. Louis Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran, Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz and Detroit Tigers’ Torii Hunter signed during the past two off-seasons. None of those deals included options.
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 ’16 and ’17, 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.
Utley, due to a variety of knee problems and right thumb surgery in 2010, averaged only 100 games from ’10 to ’12. This season, he missed nearly a month due to a strained right oblique, but his knees have not been an issue. He has appeared in 85 of the Phillies’ 114 games.
“Chase epitomizes everything we expect our Phillies to be,” said Phillies senior VP & GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “As we’ve said before, we see Chase as a true Phillie for life. This contract moves us toward that end. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
The Phillies selected Utley out of UCLA with the 15th overall pick in the 2000 draft. He is a five-time All-Star, and a career .287 hitter with an .874 OPS. This season, he is batting .277 with an .842 OPS and 15 homers in 311 at-bats.