A reunion between the Phillies and Chase Utley was all but guaranteed when the franchise's longtime second baseman was not traded in July. Ruben Amaro Jr. labeled Utley "a Phillie for life." The two sides engaged in negotiations for weeks.
They forged an extension Wednesday, reports of which emerged during the second inning, a game Utley did not start. But he will be in Philadelphia for at least the next two years, and maybe for the duration of his fruitful career.
The deal, first reported by CSNPhilly.com, is expected to include multiple option years that could make Utley a Phillie beyond 2015. The guaranteed money is not believed to be more than $30 million.
The 34-year-old Californian has known only one organization. Ownership expressed a strong desire to retain Utley, one of the city's most popular professional athletes. His chronically injured knees required pause, although a stellar 2013 season invigorated the relationship between the two parties.
"I have to be cognizant that the man is out there playing like a 28-year-old right now," Amaro said July 31. "So for me, it's about producing. I'm not sure he's a guy you can replace at second base with the kind of production that he can get us."
The deal is not without risks but is embraced at all levels of the organization. Roy Halladay, speaking before Wednesday's game, pointed to what the Phillies did with Utley as a main reason for wanting to return in 2014. Utley is viewed as a model citizen by ownership.
Utley is hitting .275 with an .841 OPS in 2013. His .505 slugging percentage is his highest since 2009.
A multiyear extension was unlikely at the start of 2013. Utley played in 103 games in 2011 and 83 in 2012 because his achy knees restricted him. He has not played in more than 115 games since 2009. He turns 35 in December. The Phillies are banking on an aging player with a history of health problems maintaining productivity in his twilight years.
Given their comfort level with the player, the Phillies felt Utley was an asset worth the risk of more millions.