Chase Utley’s contract extension with the Phillies is officially a two-year, $27 million deal, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the second baseman can earn up to $75 million depending on what happens with vesting options.
According to Rosenthal the contract includes three vesting options for $15 million each in 2016, 2017, and 2018, which are triggered if Utley reaches 500 plate appearances in the previous season. Utley will be 35 years old in a couple months and hasn’t topped 500 plate appearances in a season since 2010, so it’s certainly an interesting contract that includes other incentives and buyouts that could bring it to a maximum of $75 million over five years.
If he stays healthy and effective the Phillies would gladly pay him $15 million per season, but the vesting options remove just about all the risk from the team’s point of view. Beyond paying him $27 million for ages 35 and 36, of course, which certainly carries plenty of risk in itself. Check out Rosenthal’s full breakdown for all the other details, including what happens if Utley doesn’t reach 500 plate appearances and the Phillies get team options for those years.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.