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Sunday, January 21, 2007

MLB: Utley gets seven-year, $85M extension

“Mi nuh chase money, Money chase me”

Chase Utley exchanged marriage vows with his fiancée on Saturday afternoon.

A day later, the All-Star second baseman made a similar long-term commitment to the Phillies, saying “I do” to a seven-year, $85 million contract that will keep him in red pinstripes through 2013. Though specifics weren’t announced, the deal averages $12.14 million per season.

“We view Chase as not only a great second baseman, but also one of the top 10-15 players in the game,” assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier to lock him up for years to come.”

According to a baseball source, Utley will receive a $2 million signing bonus, salaries of $4.5 million in 2007, $7.5 million in 2008, $11 million in 2009 and $15 million in each of the final four seasons.

Repoz Posted: January 21, 2007 at 11:27 PM | 95 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies

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   1. PhillyBooster Posted: January 21, 2007 at 11:35 PM (#2284011)
Awesome.

1. Utley is the best second baseman in the NL.

2. Utley is better than the second best second baseman in the NL by more than the best (other position) in the NL is better than the second best (that position) is.

If you are going to spend it, that's what you should be spending it on.
   2. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 21, 2007 at 11:43 PM (#2284018)
$15 million in each of the final four seasons.

Assuming Chase keeps his current production, how much of a discount will 15/4 equate to?
   3. Erik A Posted: January 21, 2007 at 11:51 PM (#2284020)
Locking up a player that doesn't need to be locked up in the craziest offseason of spending in the last 6 years seems like a bad idea to me. Not to say that Utley is not someone you want to hold on to, but why not wait and see what develops in the coming years?
   4. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:00 AM (#2284025)
What get you get out of it AMBA is locking up his FA years now, at 15 a piece. If he's still performing like this in 3 years, in this market (which I believe it will be similar to), then it's a bargain.
   5. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:03 AM (#2284028)
why not wait and see what develops in the coming years?

To secure a discount on a player. Does 15/4 accomplish this? I'm not sure although I'm leaning towards yes.
   6. PhillyBooster Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:06 AM (#2284030)
Also missing from the analysis is the likelihood that the Phillies will "alienate" Utley over the next few years, so that he wouldn't sign with us for any money (See, Rolen, S. et. al.)
   7. Craig in MN Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:12 AM (#2284032)
Locking up a player that doesn't need to be locked up in the craziest offseason of spending in the last 6 years seems like a bad idea to me.

But doing so in a year where there is pretty much no market for 2nd basemen might counteract that a little. If there was there was a major 2B signing or two this year, it might have driven up Utley's contract moreso. Think about what Utley might ahve thought if Soriano signed his contract to be a second baseman for some team. I think it's as good a time as any, and a pretty reasonable contract (as seven year deals go).
   8. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:13 AM (#2284033)
Also, those 4 years at 15 million are his age: 30-34 seaons.
   9. billyshears Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:18 AM (#2284034)
This strikes me as fairly dumb. Spending this offseason has been nuts and while this contract certainly represents a discount over what Utley would get as a free agent, I'm not sure that it's that big of a discount. When you consider that Utley couldn't be a free agent for 3 more seasons, I think that the Phillies should have been able to convert the last year or two of the deal to team options. I'd never take a seven year risk on a player unless I have to in order to acquire the player (such as when he's a free agent) or if the upside is huge. I don't think either of those things are the case here.
   10. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:20 AM (#2284035)
Posts 4-8 are all assuming that $15 million is a bargain for Utley's FA years. This assumes two things:
1) Utley will continue to perform at the level he has
2) The market will continue at the current level or go up.

I think both of those are very difficult things to forecast. Utley could get injured. Utley could perform at a lower level as he gets older. Utley could lose a few steps and be unable to handle second base. A 2002-2004 level slowdown could occur, making this offseason's contracts look bad. The expected boom in internet revenues could not materialize. These are all risks that the Phillies are taking. Utley, by contrast, is taking the relatively small risk that he continues at the same level of performance or better AND that the market remains as hot as it is right now. I don't know, it seems to me like the risk is all on the Phillies side.
   11. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:26 AM (#2284037)
Nice signing. I recently outed my man love for Utley a little while ago in the Mets thread arguing with Mets fans and even if the price for free agents comes back to earth a little bit in the future, I still think this is a sweet deal. It would be very hard to get Utley to sign a 4 year deal upon reaching FA, assuming he continues to be one of the best players in baseball though his arb years. This way, the Phils are only going to have pay him through age 34. If they had waited until he was 30 or so, they might have had to sign him through 36 or something like that. The only concern about Utley is that he's a second baseman and the position wears on his players. If he's more Kent/Biggio then Alomar/Baerga/Knoblauch, which I think he probably is, then this is just a sweet deal.
   12. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:26 AM (#2284038)
Don't forget the surging international market for baseball because of Dice-K Matsuzaka and the sports ever-growing popularity ticket sales AND booning internet industry. The only thing they need to happen more is a Yankees vs. Dodgers World Series and they'll be laughing all the way to the bank. But what else makes the market overblown? A need for scarce talent. Guys are being locked up into longer contracts. On the other hand, there seems to be a good amount of young cheap talent coming up from farm systems, a la last year's rookie crop (though that was the best in years). So at least for a couple of years (3-4) I see the market remaining high. Then when more and more star rookies hit the market, prices go down because there is enough supply for the demand.
   13. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:35 AM (#2284041)
"Utley could get injured. Utley could perform at a lower level as he gets older. Utley could lose a few steps and be unable to handle second base."

All of those things could happen, but Utley is as likely as any player in baseball to age well IMO. He has a very broad skill set, he is a very intelligent ball player, and he's already one of the very best players in the league. He's only going to be 34 when this contract ends.
   14. Suff Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:38 AM (#2284042)
Chase Utley exchanged marriage vows with his fiancée on Saturday afternoon.
A day later, the All-Star second baseman made a similar long-term commitment to the Phillies


It's a sad commentary when a 7-year contract is a "similar long-term commitment" as a marriage.
   15. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:49 AM (#2284047)
I'd rather have Chase Utley at 7/105 than Vernon Wells at 7/126. Or would I?
   16. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:51 AM (#2284048)
I don't know, it seems to me like the risk is all on the Phillies side.

That's my impression as well. While it's difficult to predict whether someone's 30-34 age seasons will be worth 15 million a year and even harder to predict the economy, I tend to believe that Utley's performance and the economy will be fine. Given that the Phillies are taking on these risks, they should have received more of a discount on his FA years. Something like 10 to 13 million per year would have made the risk much more tolerable.
   17. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:56 AM (#2284049)
This way, the Phils are only going to have pay him through age 34. If they had waited until he was 30 or so, they might have had to sign him through 36 or something like that.


I thought this was a good point, that I hadn't considered. The timing of free-agency coming at 30 is a difficult time. A top player might merit a 6-7 year deal at age 30, and it may be better to be able to make a decision again at age 34.

Still, I agree with birdlives - if you are buying out FA years 3 years in the future, you should get more of a discount than the Phillies are getting - something like $13 million.
   18. Jake Luft Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:24 AM (#2284057)
I don't see how signing a seven-year, $85 million contract is in any way similar to getting married. Maybe if you were marrying Britney Spears. Otherwise, it's an unfortunate comparison by the author.
   19. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:48 AM (#2284064)
"Maybe if you were marrying Britney Spears."

That's more like Roger Clemens contract, 20 mil or so for four months of trying to make it work because you have a kid in the organization.
   20. Darren Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:49 AM (#2284065)
Good one suff.

I liked this at first, but I quickly realized that it's not such a hot move. You're signing an excellent, excellent player: good defender, good baserunner, excellent hitter for his position. That's the good news.

The bad news is that Utley's going to be 34 in the last year of this deal, and that's not a very happy age for many 2B. Even all-time greats like Alomar and Sandberg stunk at that age.

I am also inclined think that they could have done this for less, largely because Utley has barely made $1 mil. in MLB, and isn't even likely to make a ton this year either. You're giving him a chance to secure his family's future completely, I'd have to think that if the Phils held the line on that, they'd be able to convince him to take a five year deal worth $60 mil or so. Is he really going to stand firm, turn that down, then make a couple mil next year, followed by 2 more years of arb, and the uncertainty health and whatnot? (That's obviously a guess, but that's what we're forced to do until they allow a fan representative into all negotiations.)

As for the Phils, they've got him for the next three years, which is the best part of this contract. Those years will cost them something like 5/10/15. I'd rather have a flexible 3/30 deal with him than an ironclad 7/85.
   21. Rally Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:02 AM (#2284070)
Cowboy Popup: That was awesome.
   22. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:10 AM (#2284073)
I like the deal. With the limited no-trade clause, the Phillies could move Utley along after the first three years of the contract. 4/60 might be a reasonable contract to trade for if the market continues at current levels.
   23. Starscream44 Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:31 AM (#2284080)
Makes the Pujols contract (same timing) seem like a real steal.
   24. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:36 AM (#2284081)
This is a horrible deal. The Phillies should correct this matter and deal Chase to the Mets as soon as possible.
   25. Sean McNally Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:38 AM (#2284111)
So where's the line to start taking bets on when the Philly populous turns on Chase and management starts blaming him for their lot in life and trades him for 50 cents on the dollar?
   26. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:10 AM (#2284136)
So, this deal got me thinking...when should the Yankees thing long-term with Cano and for how much? According to BPro's MORP, this is a solid deal.
   27. Ben Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:08 AM (#2284163)
The best point here is that they only have to sign him through age 34. There's no way you are going to be able to sign him to a 4/60 in 3 years.

3 years is a long time, even if the market slows down it won't contract to the point where $15M is too much for the best 2B in the NL. This is a very smart move and the sort of move you need to make when you have a late blooming star. Guys who don't make it to free agency until they are >29 are going to receive very, very ugly contracts since they'll hit free agency right after their 27-29 peak while still being young enough to not produce an age-related negotiating point. Giving Utley a 7 year deal now>>>>>>>>>giving him a 7 year deal in 2009.

Another point is Utley is a good enough hitter that a move to a easier defensive position could extend his career and help the team. He'd be an overpaid LF, but a net positive out there assuming he isn't a complete butcher.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:20 AM (#2284171)
According to BPro's MORP, this is a solid deal.

How much of that MORP is in the arb years which the Phils already controlled at a (likely) reasonable price.

Anyway, if he can hang at 2B until at least 2009, Utley will be the highest paid 2B in history (in raw dollars).

Like others, it doesn't seem the Phils got enough of a discount here, especially given the way the market for 2B usually works, but I'll admit I'm a little unclear what the arb market is going to look like over the next couple years.

But I would rather have this contract than the Wells contract. If Wells loses a couple steps, his bat makes him an average-ish corner OF. Utley could conceivably move to 3B and even at 1B his bat (as it is now) would be solid. Granted, Wells track record is more solid than Utley's but not nearly enough to make up for the price difference I don't think.

Now, two counterpoints: First, it's not a completely fair comparison since Wells was much closer to FA. Second, Wells has the out clause (which I don't see him exercising but it would save the Jays a ton of money if he did) and his deal is heavily backloaded (even moreso than Utley's I believe). Still I can't see those making up the difference.
   29. Gaelan Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:24 AM (#2284173)
Utley is the best secondbaseman in baseball. Signing the best player at his position can never be all bad.
   30. GregD Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:24 AM (#2284174)
I'm glad they didn't do the really silly thing of just buying out arbitration years. I still don't understand why teams do that.

Given his age, I think this is a really good deal. As several people have posted, you don't want a 5-year deal. That leaves you with a 32-year-old free agent who is 1) likely to be good and 2) likely to want a deal that goes for 5 or 6 more years, when he almost certainly won't be good.

An ideal contract, it seems to me, is one that expires at the moment when the team could best afford to lose him. Part of this is an unknown--will the Phils have a replacement in 7 years (I doubt it.)

But the other part is when do you think Utley's skills will start to decline to the point that the team won't be bullied into signing a disastrous deal into his late 30s. To my mind, age 34 is a good guess, better than most.

The Phils are likely to "eat the cake" of Utley's career, in Bill James' phrase, without having obligated themself to pay for the leftovers.
   31. Xander Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:34 AM (#2284179)
Where does this leave Adrian Cardenas?
   32. NTNgod Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:40 AM (#2284184)
Where does this leave Adrian Cardenas?

Coming off a nice half-season in the Gulf Coast League, same as before.

It's a little early to worry about how this affects him, since it's a long, long way from the GCL.
   33. Benny Distefano's Mitt Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:50 AM (#2284190)
Utley is the best 2B in baseball, by a fair margin. Locking him up at a competitive price for his presumed seven-year peak is great news for Phillies fans.

His contract is outrageous, of course, but they all are. The baseball pie is freaking huge, so players' slices are getting bigger, too.

(heads to fridge)
   34. billyshears Posted: January 22, 2007 at 06:35 AM (#2284212)
According to BPro's MORP, this is a solid deal.

I don't know if that is the case. BPro has Utley's MORP over the next 5 years at $81.5 mil. Considering that Utley's MORP in 2011 is $14 mil, I think that it's a reasonable assumption that Utley's MORP over the seven year term of the contract would be about $105 mil. So the Phillies get a $20 mil discount to take all of the injury risk and all of the risk of performance degradation while taking on that risk three years before they had to. I don't think that discount is big enough.

Moreover, under those assumptions, Utley's MORP over the four FA years that the Phillies bought out is exactly $60 mil, so BPro doesn't think that the Phillies got any discount for Utley's FA years. The $20 mil that they save on the contract is concentrated exclusively in the first three years of the deal, when the Phillies controlled Utley's rights anyway. I know that the market has changed dramatically in the past six months, but this is a much worse deal for the Philles than the deals the Mets got for Wright and Reyes.
   35. 1k5v3L Posted: January 22, 2007 at 06:48 AM (#2284216)
I take it this will mean that Dustin Pedroia will be the first $100m second baseman in the history of baseball.
   36. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 06:54 AM (#2284219)
If your thinking if this is a bad move, ask yourself, how does it compare to the other moves this offseason? Would you rather take ANY of them over this? The answer for many is probably no.
   37. Good cripple hitter Posted: January 22, 2007 at 07:00 AM (#2284223)
It's not fair to ask that, though. Sure, this is probably a better deal than the Soriano, Lee, and Meche deals. But most of the deals this offseason have been with free agents, and Utley would've been under Philly's control for three more years. Of course it looks better than free agent deals, but that's only because Utley could either negotiate an extension with Philly or take whatever he'd get in arbitration.
   38. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 07:06 AM (#2284226)
The free agency market still affects the dollars the an arb player asks for...it dictates what his free agency years he'll be getting. And several other teams extended their own players, so that counts as in the mix too. Vernon Wells, Chris Carpenter, Lyle Overbay, who am I forgetting, I have a Jays bias...but I'm sure there are other ones out there...
   39. billyshears Posted: January 22, 2007 at 07:10 AM (#2284229)
The free agency market still affects the dollars the an arb player asks for...it dictates what his free agency years he'll be getting.

As far as I'm aware, the free agent market, by rule, only influences what a player receives in his last year of arbitration.
   40. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: January 22, 2007 at 09:56 AM (#2284248)
It seems to me that the people arguing against this contract would be against every (realistic) long-term contract, and would like to rely entirely on players in their first 6 years. I know a lot of "statheads" lean that way but it's not the way MLB teams operate. If you take it as read that the Phillies wanted to lock Utley up long-term, is it conceivable that they could get him for (significantly) less money that this? To those saying $13m per year in the free agent years - that would make the contract 7/77, so you believe the Phillies overpaid by 10%. Is that really a deal-breaker to you?

Suppose Chase Uttley were a free agent right now. Do you seriously believe he would sign for as little as 7/105?
   41. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:08 PM (#2284276)
As far as I'm aware, the free agent market, by rule, only influences what a player receives in his last year of arbitration.

No, if a player can make a decent case as to why he should be specially considered, he would be able to compare himself to people who are outside his arbitration year, which is the typical constraint. For example, if Albert Pujols had said "look, honestly, I shouldn't be limited to comparing myself to the other 2nd year arbitration guys because my performance record is absurd and I'm as good or better than guys who are about to hit free agency, here's the evidence" then the arbitrator may choose to take that into consideration.
   42. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:22 PM (#2284282)
It seems to me that the people arguing against this contract would be against every (realistic) long-term contract, and would like to rely entirely on players in their first 6 years. I know a lot of "statheads" lean that way but it's not the way MLB teams operate. If you take it as read that the Phillies wanted to lock Utley up long-term, is it conceivable that they could get him for (significantly) less money that this? To those saying $13m per year in the free agent years - that would make the contract 7/77, so you believe the Phillies overpaid by 10%. Is that really a deal-breaker to you?


I disagree with your contention AlouGoodbye. My point is that there seems to be a spike in player salaries this offseason. Nate Silver did an Unfiltered post about how the free agent market often spikes the offseason after a new collective bargaining agreement is signed. So, the economic picture looks very rosy right now. In addition, Utley is coming off his best year, at age 27. So, it is possible that Utley is at or near his peak. The Phillies are therefore buying high in two ways. Additionally, they didn't have to make a decision Utley this year, or even in the near future. They could have waited.

I am rethinking my contention that Utley is worth $13 million when he reaches FA. I am not sure you can say with certainty that a 4 year, $13 million contract will be cheap by the time he reaches free agency. What if he is no longer the best 2B in baseball (quite possible, since he doesn't really seem to be historically great). What if some of the contracts signed in the current market go bad, and every team decided long-term deals are no longer smart (something that happened only 3 years ago!).

Suppose Chase Uttley were a free agent right now. Do you seriously believe he would sign for as little as 7/105?


This is the crux of it. Is Utley a free agent right now? Does he need to be treated as one right now? Is it likely that in other offseasons of his future career he might be worth significantly less than 7/$105? I would say given the current bubble nature of the market, there is a pretty good chance that the future markets will not support such lofty valuations.
   43. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:26 PM (#2284284)
Suppose Chase Uttley were a free agent right now. Do you seriously believe he would sign for as little as 7/105?

I think Utley's value is being viewed too low. Utley is hte best second baseman, and is likely to continue to be. He doesn't have any glaring weaknesses.

As for "market correction", there won't be very much. Players salaries go up - not down. And as Utley is one of the top 10-15 players, his value will only get higher.
   44. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:44 PM (#2284290)
.. as Utley is one of the top 10-15 players, his value will only get higher.

Until he stops being one of the top 10-15 players, of course.

I think people who are calling this a good move are largely missing the point. This contract has very little to do with future market corrections or the timing of the player's free agency. It has everything to do with transferring risk from the player to the club. If I was in Philadelphia's shoes, I'd have offered 4/$40M, maybe with an option, and I'm pretty sure Utley would have jumped at it. That wouldn't obligate me to negotiate with a 30 year old free agent at the end of the deal since I could always extend him in two years if he's still a healthy superstar. Maybe those last three years wind up costing me $55M instead of $45M, but there's considerable value in not putting the $45M at risk today. Reading this thread, it's like Chris Carpenter never happened.

The wisdom of the move aside, I have to say that sadly, I agree with Sean. Give the history of this franchise, this is clearly the first step in the long and agonizing process of running Chase out of town on a rail. It's good for him that at least it's a golden rail.
   45. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:48 PM (#2284291)
"In addition, Utley is coming off his best year, at age 27."

His year this year is almost identical to his age 26 year, probably a little worse.

"Is it likely that in other offseasons of his future career he might be worth significantly less than 7/$105?"

Nomar turned down a 4 year 60 million dollar contract two years ago. Utley is a better player then Nomar was at the time. Anyone who thinks the market is going to regress in three years time to the point where 4/60 million is too much for one of the elite players of the game is nuts. Maybe if they waited until next year, he would have signed for less, or he would have turned in another MVP year and asked for more money. And yes, Utley might get hurt or fall off of a cliff. Utley's talents make him a superstar. And for that, he is getting paid a little bit more then Gary Matthews Jr. It's just not very likely that he won't be good in three years time (I don't think it's likely he won't be good in 7, but who the hell knows), he's not a pitcher, he's not Marcus Giles and the second base disease does not affect everyone.
   46. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 01:55 PM (#2284296)
"If I was in Philadelphia's shoes, I'd have offered 4/$40M, maybe with an option, and I'm pretty sure Utley would have jumped at it."

Maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he wanted to have a longterm contract that would give him and his new bride the knowledge that the could settle down in one place while they started a family.

"That wouldn't obligate me to negotiate with a 30 year old free agent at the end of the deal since I could always extend him in two years if he's still a healthy superstar. Maybe those last three years wind up costing me $55M instead of $45M, but there's considerable value in not putting the $45M at risk today."

I'm pretty sure that if you waited two years and decided you wanted to extend Utley, it would cost more then 55 million. We haven't seen a ballplayer as good as Utley sign a contract since the new bargaining agreement. Two years from now, Utley is going to be a 20 million dollar player at least if he's worth extending.
   47. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:08 PM (#2284307)
Nomar turned down a 4 year 60 million dollar contract two years ago.

The way I remember it, he was asking for 4/$60, and turned down 4/$48M. Also, it was before the 2004 season, which is more than 2 years ago.
   48. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:16 PM (#2284312)
As for "market correction", there won't be very much. Players salaries go up - not down. And as Utley is one of the top 10-15 players, his value will only get higher.


I suppose this is the big thing I disagree with Chris. A trend is a trend until it is no longer a trend. :) Which is an awkward way of saying that salaries don't go up linearly, nor can they go up forever. In 2000, Manny got an 8 year, $160 million deal ($20 million per year). In 2003, Vlad got a 3 year deal for $13 million per year. That's a 35% drop in the market for top performers.

Put another way: in 2010, PECOTA expects Utley to be worth 5.6 WARP. According to MORP (which is based on the current going rate for players), that is worth $20 million, so getting Utley for $13 is a substantial discount. However, as of early 2006, 6 WARP was worth $13 million per season (see this article for more). If salaries only go back down to where they were last offseason, you are now getting Utley's expected production at cost, while taking on all the injury risk. Additionally, PECOTA expects Utley's production to fall off in 2001 to 4.1 WARP. He has to get old at some time, and saying that he is an elite MLB player right now (no argument there), is different than saying he will still be amongst the game's elite in 5-7 years.
   49. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:17 PM (#2284316)
"The way I remember it, he was asking for 4/$60, and turned down 4/$48M. Also, it was before the 2004 season, which is more than 2 years ago."

Ah, you're probably right, my mistake.
   50. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:18 PM (#2284318)
Correction: Utley is expected to fall to 4.1 WARP in 2011, not 2001. Derp.
   51. Kyle S Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:20 PM (#2284321)
Sheff was 3/39; Vlad was 5/75 IIRC. Or was it 6/75?

Berkman is a better player than Utley (or at least one i'd rather have) - he signed an extension last season. It was for about 6/100 or so, right?
   52. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:24 PM (#2284324)
Nomar turned down 4/60. John Henry said so, and Nomar has never denied it - he argues that he sent back a counterproposal, and the Red Sox ended negotiations.

I think that's about right. Nomar received an offer, made a counter-offer, and the negotiations ended. It seems like there was some huge miscommunication there, and it's likely both sides are being disingenuous in their re-tellings, but the 4/60 offer appears to have been a real thing.
   53. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:24 PM (#2284325)
Kyle, you are correct. My memory failed me there. It was 5 years, $75 million, for $15 million a year. Still a 25% drop, however.
   54. Kyle S Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:25 PM (#2284327)
To answer my own question: Berkman signed for 6/85 before the 2005 season, buying out 5 years of free agency. Since he had already agreed to a $10.5m salary for his last arb year, he essentially signed a 5/75 extension (akin to Vlad's contract) but by signing it one year in advance, he shifted some of the risk to the team in the event he was badly hurt during the 2005 season.
   55. Sam M. Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:26 PM (#2284332)
Utley is hte best second baseman, and is likely to continue to be.

The first statement is true, but the crux of the issue is whether the second one is as well. As Ignoratio puts it, "It has everything to do with transferring risk from the player to the club." The Phillies are taking a substantial -- not to say indefensible -- risk that they aren't buying high on Utley, on two "peaks" that have been identified in this thread: a peak in the market for players generally, and a peak in Utley's value specifically. I don't think the former is all that significant: although I think the rate of growth we saw in the spike this off-season probably won't be maintained, salaries are likely to still go up even if more slowly. But the latter risk IS significant. Given Utley's age and the risk of injuries and general wear and tear on second basemen, this is a long deal for him. The Phillies are taking a pretty good-sized chance here. If you don't think so, remember that in 2003 Marcus Giles looked to Braves' fans about like Chase Utley looks right now. John Schuerholz wasn't offering Marcus Giles any seven-year deals this off-season . . . .

But you know what? Utley is not Giles, and great players are the ones you take the chances on and build your franchise around. It sure beats the hell out of running them out of town (see Rolen, Scott). I see almost nothing not to like in what the Phillies have done this off-season, except that I'm a Mets' fan. I hate to see them run well for once . . . .
   56. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:27 PM (#2284333)
Cot's is teh awesom:

Lance Berkman: 6 years/$85M (2005-2010), plus $15M 2011 club option; signed in March, 2005; he was one year away from free agency, not three.
   57. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:27 PM (#2284336)

I suppose this is the big thing I disagree with Chris. A trend is a trend until it is no longer a trend. :) Which is an awkward way of saying that salaries don't go up linearly, nor can they go up forever. In 2000, Manny got an 8 year, $160 million deal ($20 million per year). In 2003, Vlad got a 3 year deal for $13 million per year. That's a 35% drop in the market for top performers.
Manny was healthy. Everyone at the time was worried that Guerrero's back was going to end his career. The Guerrero deal was seen as a big risk at the time. I'm sure he would have received a lot more if it weren't for the back problems.

Further, both those deal have turned out great for the signing team. The basic point seems to be that locking up top performers at market price is the right thing to do - top performers are what win pennants.
   58. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:32 PM (#2284339)
The more I think about this, the more I think this contract is less about economics, and more of a message. Gillick wants to change the culture in Philadelphia, and extending Utley indicates what type of players and performance will be rewarded. Utley represents a clearly different type of player from the Abreu/Burrell core of the team, and Gillick is showing his departure from the previous regime.
   59. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:41 PM (#2284346)
Further, both those deal have turned out great for the signing team. The basic point seems to be that locking up top performers at market price is the right thing to do - top performers are what win pennants.


I'm not disagreeing with you there MCoA. Elite players should be well paid. If Utley was going to be a free agent next year, I would argue to lock him up, risks be damned. However, if you are in a market bubble, you stay out of the market unless you have to. To me, it is telling that some of the smartest run organizations out there (Yankees, Braves, Twins, and Cardinals) have largely stayed out of this year's free agent market, and have not extended their young players (although the Twins might sign Mauer or Morneau, making this comment look stupid). Buying at a market peak when you don't have to is bad policy.
   60. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:45 PM (#2284350)
"The more I think about this, the more I think this contract is less about economics, and more of a message. "

I think you're exactly right. I thought about this when this thread came up last night. And Utley is the player to do this with. Utley is pretty much the perfect player right now, it's hard for even the Phillies fans to get on him, (although RISP maybe somewhere down the line). Anyway, I agree with AMBA, this is an important PR move as well and that certainly helps balance out the risk everyone seems to be so concerned about.
   61. Bad Doctor Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:45 PM (#2284351)
He's a terrific player, and as a Phillies fan, I'm glad to see him locked up. But it's an excessive deal. Not an awful one, but slightly bad. They went overboard.

It has everything to do with transferring risk from the player to the club.

Excellent, excellent point. I can't believe the number of posters who are saying, "Well he's well-rounded, we know he'll still be a star 4 years from now." Are you kidding me? This is what the Reds said when they got Griffey. This is what the A's said when they extended Chavez. An odd one that comes to mind, but this is probably what the Rockies said when they were watching their first year of Jeff Cirillo. This is what Ed Wade said when he was extending Burrell a few years ago. This contract should not be confused with other buyout contracts (Santana, Pujols, Peavy, etc.), because there's just no indication that there was a fair exchange of the player's risk of declining performance in exchange for the team paying him more than he would otherwise get, but not full market value. If Utley would have otherwise gotten more than this in the next 7 years, it would only be if he sustained his excellence, and even then, he wouldn't have gotten much more ... maybe 10-20% more? In exchange, the Phillies take on all the risks that he goes all Eric Chavez on them.

He plays at second where the injury/fatigue risk is greater. Despite his great defensive numbers in 2005, who knows if he can continue at that level ... especially considering he was a second baseman in college. And the fans love him because he's such a hustling player, but that only increases the risk of injuries. He's got more risk than most players, and the Phillies accepted it all without getting much in return.

Give the history of this franchise, this is clearly the first step in the long and agonizing process of running Chase out of town on a rail.

It's so tough to believe this for Utley, because he's a hustling fan favorite. But this deal does remind me so much of the Burrell deal -- essentially guaranteeing a first-year arb guy exactly what he would get in his three arb years and first few FA years if his production didn't flag one iota. And at the time you say, "Hell, we overpaid, but we locked the kid up, the fans like him, he's still young and athletic, and we're going to get out before he gets too old." But to see how that's ended up for Burrell ... I hope this isn't a replay.
   62. Sam M. Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:48 PM (#2284353)
. However, if you are in a market bubble, you stay out of the market unless you have to. To me, it is telling that some of the smartest run organizations out there (Yankees, Braves, Twins, and Cardinals) have largely stayed out of this year's free agent market, and have not extended their young players (although the Twins might sign Mauer or Morneau, making this comment look stupid). Buying at a market peak when you don't have to is bad policy.

Another thing smart teams do (or lucky ones that just look smart in hindsight) is get ahead of the market. How sweet does the Mets' deal with David Wright (6 years, $55M) look now in comparison?
   63. Sam M. Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:52 PM (#2284358)
What are you going to say when Wright goes all diva on you

I'm going to say, "There is a God!!!!"
   64. bunyon Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:55 PM (#2284360)
It's so tough to believe this for Utley, because he's a hustling fan favorite. But this deal does remind me so much of the Burrell deal -- essentially guaranteeing a first-year arb guy exactly what he would get in his three arb years and first few FA years if his production didn't flag one iota. And at the time you say, "Hell, we overpaid, but we locked the kid up, the fans like him, he's still young and athletic, and we're going to get out before he gets too old." But to see how that's ended up for Burrell ... I hope this isn't a replay.

Well, Utley isn't Rogers Hornsby, so he must suck.
   65. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:57 PM (#2284361)
To me, it is telling that some of the smartest run organizations out there (Yankees, Braves, Twins, and Cardinals) have largely stayed out of this year's free agent market, and have not extended their young players

When have the Yankees ever locked up their young players? Sure they kept Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Williams, and Pettitte (the first time), but they did it mostly by going to arbitration year after year and signing them at (or above) market value when they had to. This is a rather overlooked aspect of their revenue advantage -- big arbitration awards are never going to hurt them the way they can screw up Schuerholz' budget.
   66. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:01 PM (#2284366)
"Are you kidding me? This is what the Reds said when they got Griffey. This is what the A's said when they extended Chavez. An odd one that comes to mind, but this is probably what the Rockies said when they were watching their first year of Jeff Cirillo."

At that point Griffey wasn't the defensive player Utley is right now. Chavez? Not even close. He was not the baserunner Utley was and positionally adjusted, Utley has got the edge at the plate. And Cirillo lacks in the baserunning department as well. Utley is probably the most complete player in the game (him or Beltran). The fact that you can throw a few names out there who have collapsed, and the only similiar player you mention is Jeff Cirillo, means nothing. Manny Ramirez has been productive during his contract. So has A-rod. So has Vlad. Jeff Kent (Utley's top comp on BBref) was pretty much a star from 29-37. He could get hurt, and if he does the Phillies are ###### either way. No one is going to replace his production at 2nd, and the only guys who might in a year or two are going to be locked up by their teams and will not be available to go anywhere else. I don't know how the Phillies could have better spent the money. He's going to be making less then Carlos Lee even when he finishes his arb years and he could collapse and still be a better ballplayer then Lee is right now. Any long term contract is a risk. They bought out his arbitration years at a reasonable price and essentially signed him to a free agency deal that was cheaper and shorter then anything he would have signed 2 or three years from now. This fear of Utley's collapse is extraordinary.
   67. HowardMegdal Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:02 PM (#2284368)
"But you know what? Utley is not Giles, and great players are the ones you take the chances on and build your franchise around. It sure beats the hell out of running them out of town (see Rolen, Scott)."

So does anyone remember what Rolen was demanding when the Phils traded him? What kind of value would they have gotten out of that contract- just out of curiousity.

I think when you can sign the best player at his position whose defense makes him likely to be able to stay at a plus defensive position for the forseeable future and who is much better than the next at his position, getting into smaller details like whether 7/85 should be 7/77 are beside the point. In addition, Philly is not a small-market team. These are the kind of signings they should be able to make. Philly fans should be thrilled at the chance to watch Chase Utley play for the next 7 years- frankly, I'll enjoy watching him 19 times a year on some level, even though he'll be battling my favorite team.
   68. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:04 PM (#2284370)
"When have the Yankees ever locked up their young players? Sure they kept Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Williams, and Pettitte (the first time), but they did it mostly by going to arbitration year after year and signing them at (or above) market value when they had to."

The Jeter decision was probably one of the dumbest baseball moves in the last 20 years. IIRC, it pretty much cost them 80 million dollars and an extra year or two on the contract. I wonder how they'll treat Cano and Wang.
   69. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:11 PM (#2284377)
Earlier in this offseason, we were talking about the going rate for star players as $20 million. Vernon Wells, Miguel Cabrera, Johan Santana, Andruw Jones...all these guys were mentioned in the same sentence as 20 million dollars. Even if you overpay your player a couple of million a year in a situation like this, if you let the player go to free agency, then you risk losing him, and if he's still playing good, you either have to shell out more money, or give a similar contract for his later years. IE: this way they get his age 27-33 or whatever years, they get to keep him, and his free agent years are set at 15 million, which is the lower end of the spectrum for a star player. Every long-term contract carries the obvious risk that they will not be good in 1 year, or 2, or worse. But that's a risk the GM has to take to keep that player. Who wants to pay 15-20 million a year for a bad year of a player, or his last 2 declining years? Well the GM has to do that to lock up and keep their player at all (and in this case, it would be risk losing him in 3 years, or have to pay more money or for his older years....) It's funny that all those arguing against this contract are all the smart ones, I don't know if your just playing Devil's Advocate, but being a GM is WAY harder then you guys think it is, and all the naysayers would probably find it extremely difficult if they were GM's IN REALITY, not in armchairs.
   70. MSI Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:12 PM (#2284379)
Also there is a LIMITED no trade clause.
   71. Sam M. Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:18 PM (#2284388)
Any long term contract is a risk. They bought out his arbitration years at a reasonable price and essentially signed him to a free agency deal that was cheaper and shorter then anything he would have signed 2 or three years from now. This fear of Utley's collapse is extraordinary.

There's no reason to be one-sided about this. There ARE higher risks involved with the long term contract for a second-baseman. There are reasons why teams pay second basemen less, and give long-term deals less frequently to second basemen. The Phillies have done something unusual here, and something that is higher risk.

I don't think Utley is going to collapse, but I think it is more likely he's going to decline from his current levels than if he were a comparably good left fielder. And it is thus possible that by the time he actually would have hit free agency, he might be a good, but not an elite player, to whom no one would offer this type of contract. Hence, it is fair to call this a risky deal. It's reasonable to take the position that the risk was worth taking, but it is also reasonable to believe that it is uncertain whether the deal really is better for the Phillies than what he might have signed two or three years from now. Only his performance the next two or three years will determine that.
   72. Erik A Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:20 PM (#2284391)
Actually, Chavez is an interesting comp. I happen to have the 2004 PECOTA projections handy. When Chavez signed his extension in March 2004, he was projected to put up a 50 VORP at 3rd base in 2004, about the same as Utley is expected to put up as a 2nd baseman in 2007. In addition, he was (and still is) considered excellent defensively. Utley seems to be fairly highly regarded, but is he considered elite? The Fan's Scouting report has him as a 68, as opposed to Chavez's 85. Chavez was 26 at the time, Utley is 28. Chavez was reasonably expected to be an elite player as of 3 years ago - now, not so much. To be clear, I am not arguing that this dooms Utley to Chavez's future, but it certainly shows that there is significant downside risk - risk that the Phillies did not have to take at this point.
   73. PerroX Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:21 PM (#2284393)
One of dumbest moves of last 20 years?

That comment is comparable in excessiveness to Jeter's contract.

Doubt Jeter has four more MVP-type seasons left in him to justify the last four years of that contract, but you have to consider they backloaded the money -- he was likely worth more than he was paid the first three seasons.

Overpaid, yes, but not extraordinarily so. Not moreso than the guy stationed to his right.
   74. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:29 PM (#2284406)
The Jeter decision was probably one of the dumbest baseball moves in the last 20 years.

Did I say it was smart? My point was simply that while giving a contract like this one to Jeter back in 1999 would have been very smart (especially in hindisght), this has never been the Yankees MO. And I don't think it will be with Cano and Wang either (it's way too early to start talking about locking up Melky Cabrera). The product that the Yankees put on the field isn't really hurt in any meaningful way by paying Jeter $190M for ten years rather than $110M for eight. The other great fear when Jeter et al were young was that three years of contentious arbitration hearings would alienate the players and make them more likely to leave when they had the chance, but it didn't turn out that way.
   75. CrosbyBird Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:36 PM (#2284415)
This fear of Utley's collapse is extraordinary.

I agree. Utley drops off some and then he's the 3rd or 4th best 2B in baseball instead of the best. It takes a substantial drop for him to be an albatross.

Not to mention that he's just entering his prime. He could get better than he is right now. Utley assumes the risk that he'll take another step forward, perhaps moving into the .385/.575 range, and have undersold his services. If Utley hits 110 HR over the next three years, he'll be a huge bargain.

Also, the value of this move from a non-baseball perspective is being ignored by a lot of people. The Phillies are showing the fans that ownership is committed to locking up their talented young players.

As for a market correction, the salaries may not skyrocket over the next seven years, but it seems totally out of character for market value to drop over seven years.
   76. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:43 PM (#2284421)
"There's no reason to be one-sided about this. There ARE higher risks involved with the long term contract for a second-baseman. There are reasons why teams pay second basemen less, and give long-term deals less frequently to second basemen. The Phillies have done something unusual here, and something that is higher risk."

Of course there are. But really, if anyone knows about Utley's physical condition, it's probably the Phillies. A guy like Gillick, who has a lot of faults, is not, IMO, going to throw a lot of money Utley's way without considering those factors and deciding that Utley is probably not going to turn into Knoblauch or any of the other second baseman that are still parked on the shoulder lane of the early 30s highway.

"I don't think Utley is going to collapse, but I think it is more likely he's going to decline from his current levels than if he were a comparably good left fielder. And it is thus possible that by the time he actually would have hit free agency, he might be a good, but not an elite player, to whom no one would offer this type of contract."

But I don't think 4/15 million is a contract offered to an elite player anymore. Elite 30 years olds command alot of money these days. Non elite, but good 30+ ballplayers command things like 7/100 Mil or 5/55 mil, even if the market corrects itself and Utley is merely a good ballplayer by the time he's 30, 4/60 seems pretty reasonable to me.

"Hence, it is fair to call this a risky deal. It's reasonable to take the position that the risk was worth taking, but it is also reasonable to believe that it is uncertain whether the deal really is better for the Phillies than what he might have signed two or three years from now. Only his performance the next two or three years will determine that."

I disagree with this reasoning. Utley is not a replaceable commodity. If he falls off a cliff, the Phillies are screwed. They would have been screwed if they hadn't signed him anyway, because his production at 2nd is irreplaceable. If he becomes merely a good or average player, then they are overpaying a homegrown up the middle player who is very popular with the fans and has a better then most chance at retaining that popularity in Philly. If he remains a superstar, then this is a bargain.

I typed up a comparable paragraph for if they didn't sign Utley, but it was pointless. Basically, every year Utley doesn't sign, his price will go up, even if he has a down year, because that seems to be how baseball contracts work. If Utley continues on his pace of destroying the majors, you could be looking at having to pay him 120 mil over six years when he reaches free agency. That is a risk the Phillies have avoided. I also believe that if Utley ends up being only a good player 30, the Phillies are still saving themselves some trouble here because they don't know where the market will be in 3 years and they don't have to worry about signing Utley to 35 and beyond, which IMO is a much greater risk then signing Utley 30-34. I do not doubt that second base has taken a fair number of careers to an early grave, but there are just as many recent second baseman who maintained their level of play after 30 (Durham, Kent, Grudzelanik, Mark Loretta, Todd walker) as those who have collapsed. Of course it's a risk, I think how much of a risk it is is being blown out of proportion in this thread. It's no more of a risk IMO then signing a CFer to a contract past his mid thirties, which historically is as much of a warning light as a second baseman past 30.
   77. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:53 PM (#2284436)
"That comment is comparable in excessiveness to Jeter's contract.

Doubt Jeter has four more MVP-type seasons left in him to justify the last four years of that contract, but you have to consider they backloaded the money -- he was likely worth more than he was paid the first three seasons.

Overpaid, yes, but not extraordinarily so. Not moreso than the guy stationed to his right."

Hey, you're talking Jeter's #1 fan right here. I'm not saying he's overpaid or it's a bad contract (I think he's worth every penny (don't tell mgl) and I love that he's signed for eternity). But anytime you have a chance to save 80 million dollars and you don't because you wanna pinch pennies with a hugely popular, superstar SS in arbitration, how is it not historically stupid? That's most of Carlos Beltran's contract right there.

"Did I say it was smart?"

Did I accuse you of saying it was smart. I was simply commenting on the move and certainly did not mean to imply that.

"The product that the Yankees put on the field isn't really hurt in any meaningful way by paying Jeter $190M for ten years rather than $110M for eight."

As I mentioned before, that's most of Beltran's money right there. And 80 million dollars is still 80 million dollars, I'm sure they could have done something useful with it.
   78. Bad Doctor Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:59 PM (#2284441)
Manny Ramirez has been productive during his contract. So has A-rod. So has Vlad. Jeff Kent (Utley's top comp on BBref) was pretty much a star from 29-37.

And when teams wanted them, on the free agent market, they had to suck up the odds of a collapse or factor it into their contract offers. The Phillies had awhile before they had to accept those risks, but they assumed them all the same without getting much of a hometown discount.

Look, you can cite stars that maintained and I can cite stars that collapsed all day long. The point is that the Phillies were not yet in the position where they had to worry which way Utley would go, and weren't particularly close to that position, yet they accepted his risks wholesale.

There's a 10-20% chance that this deal turns out to be a steal, and all the Phillies saved is about 15% of what they would have had to otherwise pay him, and maybe an extra year at age 25. There's a huge chance that Utley's fine, maybe a little underpaid, maybe a little overpaid, whatever, who cares? There's a 5-10% that something bad happens -- early decline, sharp decline, injury -- and if it happens tomorrow, as Dirk Diggler's producer would say, it's now an MP for the Phillies, not a YP. And they didn't get anything for accepting this risk.

Chavez? Not even close.

Looking now, Eric Chavez 2005 is actually the #5 PECOTA comp for Utley.

Hey, I really like the guy and all, and this probably small potatoes for a team like the Phillies, especially considering the argument that Gillick wants to do this for the fan base (though that's a pretty fickle fan base, and again, the Burrell deal seems eerily similar to me). Apologies ... I'm still riled up from defending Andy Reid's punt on 4th and 15, so I'm still in the "bickering over small potatoes" mood.
   79. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:11 PM (#2284453)
"The point is that the Phillies were not yet in the position where they had to worry which way Utley would go, and weren't particularly close to that position, yet they accepted his risks wholesale."

I think they are. I think they have been for a year at least. Utley's production essentially makes him a franchise player, and even if they aren't financially invested in Utley, the Phillies are very invested in which way Utley would go. I realize this is sort of a bizarre arguement, but there is no hope for a Phillies team without Utley. Replacing him would require restructuring the team.

I also think that the financial risks of waiting on Utley are greater then taking an 85 million dollar risk now. Guys with a no history of playing at the level Utley has played at for two years are getting 100 million dollars out of free agency. Utley is a top defensive 2nd baseman with two 100 RBI seasons so far with more to come and is average 30 HRs over the last two years. Carlos Lee has one more 100 rbi season, plays an average at best LF and just signed a huge contract with a mid market team. I don't see how Utley is only a bit more expensive if the Phillies wait. If you wait until the last year of arbitration, you're looking at at least a 100 million dollar contract and IMO, that is much riskier then signing Utley now.

"Looking now, Eric Chavez 2005 is actually the #5 PECOTA comp for Utley."

Well, I didn't know that and now I kinda feel foolish. Eyeballing them, I didn't think they were that comparable.
   80. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:25 PM (#2284468)
FWIW, when I talked about transfer of risk, that's exactly what I meant. Obviously any long term contract entails some risk. I'm not saying that Utley is a bad risk. I'm not expecting or predicting that he will be less valuable three years from now. But before this deal was signed, the Phillies had zero obligation to assume *any* risk with Utley, other than the risk of losing him in three years. I'm simply saying that the guarantee of seven years of extremely handsome compensation has a lot of value too.

The Phillies are probably paying Utley about what they would have in arbitration for the next three years. They should have gotten a discount in exchange for guaranteeing that up front. They didn't. Four years at $15M per would be a steal for Utley if he were a free agent today, but he's not. He's "risking" maybe $20M in additional earnings by signing this. Apparently, a lot of people think that's a fair trade for an $85M guarantee. Unless there's a bunch of deferred money that reduces the prestn-day value of the deal, I disagree. That's all.

Or to put it another way:

This fear of Utley's collapse is extraordinary.

Actually, no. What's extraordinary is the need to, as Sam put it, be all one-sided about it.
   81. Sam M. Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:28 PM (#2284472)
Cowboy, the only thing I can say is I just shake my head at the certainty with which you say things like:

Basically, every year Utley doesn't sign, his price will go up,

and

Utley is a top defensive 2nd baseman with two 100 RBI seasons so far with more to come

As if these things are written virtually in stone! All I've tried to say in this thread is that there are uncertainties attached to these decisions, and that the uncertainties are relatively higher with a second baseman. This makes the Phillies' call here -- when the player is still so far away from free agency, and wouldn't have hit it until he's on the other side of 30 -- unusual; one might even say a bit daring.

I mean, I end up coming down on your side of this -- I praise the Phils for locking a player like Utley up. But one reason I do is because I can see the risk they are taking, and so I admire the gutsiness of it. It is precisely because I do NOT think it was an easy decision that it seems to me a particularly good one. The deal the Mets made with Wright was a no-brainer. This one wasn't.
   82. Mister High Standards Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:36 PM (#2284479)
Berkman is a better player than Utley


I would have said that too earlier in the off-season but when doing PM-SLTWS I was amazed at how fantastic a player Utley is. IMHO, the most underrated in baseball by far. He has less value tied to his bat than any elite player - a great defender, a great base runner, a really good hitter in general and a great hitter relative position. Young, no injury concerns - I think Utley is one of the 5 most valuable commodities in baseball. I don't know if the dollars make sense, but then again I don't know if we are qualified to judge this contract on just dollars per unit of production as these types of deals usually have more value to the franchise than just that.

I agree with Cowboy Popup, that Chavez isn't a good comp. Injury concerns, not the hitter relative to position, not the hitter period, not the base runner. Utley's last two years are on par with Chavez best year, while Chavez has been a league average to slightly better than league average hitting 3b for the last 2 years.

Stats like VORP, and Winshares and Warp are going to underrate Utley due to them not capturing his defense accurately at least relative to zone and them not capturing his base running at all.

Tremendous player.
   83. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:42 PM (#2284486)
"Actually, no. What's extraordinary is the need to, as Sam put it, be all one-sided about it."

I'm not trying to be one sided about it. I'm acknowledging all the risks. I just think that other options people have put forth, rather then signing Utley now, are equally as risky.

"Basically, every year Utley doesn't sign, his price will go up,"

It is incredibly rare that a player under the age of thirty accrues more service time and sees his price tag drop.

"Utley is a top defensive 2nd baseman with two 100 RBI seasons so far with more to come"

It is pretty close to certain that in the next two years, with that offense, in that park, that Utley will get 100 RBIs. It would take something very unlikely IMO (I guess he could end up with 99 RBIs, I'll stick with the price and the defense), because Utley is still only 28 next year, for that not to happen. It's not written in stone, but those things are incredibly probable, probably enough that there isn't really any risk IMO of assuming that those two things will happen, because if they don't happen, there was really no way to predict it happening other then just assuming that #### will happen.
   84. Thirty-two Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:12 PM (#2284511)
Man, what a weekend. On Friday he was single and making 6 figures. Today he's married and he, his children, and his children's children are set for life. How do you come to grips with that?

He's my favorite player on the Phils right now, so I'm glad. It does seem like a lot of money, but it's not my money. If he ends up not earning it, I'm pretty sure it won't be for lack of effort.
   85. billyshears Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:15 PM (#2284518)
Of course it's a risk, I think how much of a risk it is is being blown out of proportion in this thread.

I just think any seven year contract is a huge risk and, if I were a GM, I wouldn't give them out except under exceptional circumstances. Utley is a fantastic player, but if I'm going to give a guy a guaranteed seven year deal, when I could otherwise go year to year with the guy for the next three years at a price that is generally below market value, I want it to be pretty damn clear that if things go reasonably well for the player, I'm getting a discount. If things go very well for Utley and he maintains his status as an elite player into his early to mid thirties, then I think this is a good deal for the Phillies. But if things go only reasonably well for Utley and he starts to fall off around age 30, then I don't think this is a good deal. For me, there's just too much uncertainty in the value of this contract for the Phillies to give up the right to wait and see on the guy for the next three years.

I think another thing that is being overlooked is that the Phillies would have had the option to let Utley go in three years. It's been presented that if Utley hit the free agent market in three years, the Phillies would have had to have given him a six or seven year deal at the time, which would take him into his late thirties, and that this contract is beneficial because it only takes him through age 34. Utley is obviously a cornerstone type player now, and I understand that no Phillies fan wants to think about letting him go, but the Phillies already control him though his prime. When evaluating this contract, you also have to weigh it against the option of using Utley in his pre-FA years and letting somebody else pay for his decline phase. Maybe you lose a couple of good Utley years, but you also probably don't pay for a couple sub-par ones. Moreover, this option costs the least and involves the least amount of risk.
   86. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2284533)
I'm still riled up from defending Andy Reid's punt on 4th and 15
Is there an anti-primey? Because this guy deserves it if there is. :)

My son told me Utley signed for 7 years and made me guess the amount. I nailed the $, not that I thought the Phils negotiated a stellar deal but based on their thinking of past contracts, in which they lay out each year to some predicted current $ amount based on arbitration and free agency. And all that is assuming the player matches his most recent peak season for the duration of the contract.

So I guess that I am a little negative on this contract but it's probably just a year @15M too much for my tastes.
   87. bunyon Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:47 PM (#2284538)
Man, what a weekend. On Friday he was single and making 6 figures. Today he's married and he, his children, and his children's children are set for life. How do you come to grips with that?

Dude should have signed the contract first, so as to be bringing the money into the marriage. This way, he made that money while they were married. I'm assuming a prenup of course. Also, I'm neglecting that it might be true love.
   88. Danny Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:49 PM (#2284541)
Well, I didn't know that and now I kinda feel foolish. Eyeballing them, I didn't think they were that comparable.

You have the old SLWTS spreadsheets, right? Take a look at how Chavez rates in the few years preceding his extension.
   89. Bad Doctor Posted: January 22, 2007 at 07:00 PM (#2284605)
I don't see how Utley is only a bit more expensive if the Phillies wait.

And I can see your point, though, having done no research, I get the feeling the market will cool off. (It seems like the "new CBA/fat city/spend your way into contention" phase should naturally be followed by a "stuck with bad contracts/let's not stick ourselves with another albatross" phase.) Hey, Utley's future prospects aren't any different than they were three days ago. I didn't think he would fizzle out before, but there was definitely a chance. And he has to know this. And this is why the Pujolses, Santanas, Webbs, Peavys, Lackeys, etc. of the world sign contracts that look bad (for the player) a couple years later ... they have their first chance at the big money but very little leverage, and their teams took advantage of that fact. The Burrell and Utley signings show me that that's so much Greek to the Phillies.
   90. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: January 22, 2007 at 07:36 PM (#2284642)
Cots has Vlad at 5yrs/$70M or 6/$82, depending on whether the club option is picked up. ($3M buyout v. $15M option)

There is a clear precedent for market corrections after big FA years. A-Rod signed for $25M/yr before 2001. Jeter signed for $19M. By 2004, Tejeda got only $12/yr and only six years. What about pitchers like Hampton and Brown? I don't recall pitchers getting their numbers for a while.
As predicted by baseball writers, this year was influenced by a lot of money (increased revenue, end of contracts) chasing a mediocre FA class. It will not be surprising to see another correction.
   91. Rodder Posted: January 22, 2007 at 07:41 PM (#2284652)
I think that it is becoming more and more apparent what Gillick was hired by the Phillies to do. All indications at the time of his hiring was that he was meant to be a relatively short-term GM, and I thought at the time it was to put the Philllies over the top. It appears to me now that the plan is he takes the team he inherited (hamstrung with long-term deals) and 1)increases payroll flexibility and 2)locks up a core group of talent while remaining competitive. In 2008, the Phillies have about $55 million in committed payroll, in 2009 only about $28 million. All of the players brought in during Gillick's term so far (Eaton, Moyers, Gordon, Garcia, Helms, etc) all have the common denominator of either signings of no more than three years, or an expiring contract. The only two long-term deals have been for fan favorites already on the roster in Rollins and Utley. On the negative side, I am sure he was also meant to restock the farm system, and so far that hasn't happened.
   92. bibigon Posted: January 23, 2007 at 02:07 AM (#2284912)
Utley was what, like the 3rd best player in baseball this year per PM-SLWTS? And last year, I'm pretty sure he was #1 by SLWTS...

I have a hard time not thinking this is a good deal.
   93. GregD Posted: January 23, 2007 at 03:04 AM (#2284929)
I see two different critiques:

1) Total amount of money. This is a reasonable line. Could the Phils have played hardball with a take it or leave it offer of, say, $78 million? Maybe. To me, it's a small difference, but if that $7-10 million spread over 7 years makes you hate the contract, fine.

2) The years. This criticism is, I think misguided. The Phils would have been worse served with a 5-year deal. If Utley is well represented, his next contract will certainly take him into the ages when he is no longer very productive. Unless something crazy happens to the game's economics (possible but unlikely) or every team is owned by a rational owner (doubtful) or Utley is seriously hurt in his contract year (obviously possible), a team will almost certainly give him a long contract that will pay him large amounts for seasons in his late 30s. This contract helps the Phils avoid that entanglement.
   94. Walt Davis Posted: January 23, 2007 at 09:23 AM (#2285051)
Sending a market signal by extending a young player? Have Philly fans already forgotten Burrell and Rollins? Talk about short memories.

Anyway, it's not a bad deal. It's just a risky deal for the Phillies and I don't think they got enough discount to cover that risk.

I don't think we're likely to see substantial reduction in salaries (the correction of a few years back was certainly the most severe I can recall) but I do think we're going to see a backlash against these long-term contracts in 2-4 years. A good percentage of these 6-8 year deals are going to blow up badly and teams will be spooked. Not that I'm suggesting the Phils should have counted on that.

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