PHILADELPHIA - Chase Utley and Ruben Amaro Jr. trust each other.
That trust between the second baseman and general manager led to a contract that will keep the 34-year-old Utley in a Phillies uniform for at least two and possibly the next five seasons.
The Phillies announced Thursday that Utley had signed a two-year contract with a three-year vesting option. Foxsports.com reported that Utley is guaranteed $25 million and could make as much as $75 million.
Foxsports .com also reported that Utley could make an additional $5 million in 2015 if he does not go on the disabled list for more than 15 days with a specified knee injury. Utley will earn the options by making 500 plate appearances in 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to Foxsports.
"I made it pretty clear I'm extremely excited to continue my career in Philadelphia," Utley said at news conference with Amaro after the Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 12-1 Thursday afternoon. "The fan base here is the best fan base in all of baseball. To have an opportunity to play in front of them nightly is special."
Amaro is trusting that Utley remains a healthy player. Utley struggled with injuries from 2009-2011, never playing in more than 115 games during that stretch.
"We want him to be a Phillie for life," Amaro said. "There's some risk here because he's had some issues, but we think he's past those."
Utley also is trusting that Amaro can rebuild the Phillies. Philadelphia is headed for its second straight non-playoff season after winning National League East titles from 2007-2011.
'Our ownership group wants to win just as bad as we do," Utley said. "I truly believe we can get back to where we were. (Amaro) laid it out for me. He told me, 'We want to win, and we're going to do what we need to to win.' "
Contract talks between Utley and the Phillies began a few weeks ago. Utley told the club he wanted to stay in Philadelphia but also wanted to be treated fairly.
"I wasn't trying to break the bank," Utley said.
Amaro admitted the negotiations were difficult at times. The vesting options give the Phillies protection against an Utley injury. Utley is confident he can stay healthy.
"Ever since I came back last year, I've felt pretty good," Utley said. "I have a routine that I found that works for me. As you get older, you learn things about your body. I've always been willing to put the time in because there's no better place to be than on that baseball field."
It is difficult to imagine Utley playing for any other team. He is one of the team's most popular players and the face of the franchise.
"He reminds us of what we're about," Amaro said.
Despite his age, Utley remains one of the top offensive second baseman in baseball. He is batting .280 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs. Utley leads all NL second baseman with an .855 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
The Phillies also value Utley's leadership and the example he sets for younger players. Utley always hustles. Rookie Cody Asche's locker is right next to Utley in the Phillies' clubhouse.
"We're going through a transition," Amaro said. "I view Chase as a bridge to the next core group of players."
Utley said he didn't think much about testing the free-agent market. He probably could have gotten more money if he did.
"I've talked to some guys who played here and are now with other organizations, Utley said. "The grass isn't always greener on the other side."
With the re-signing of Utley, Amaro remains committed to the core of Phillies players - Utley, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and first baseman Ryan Howard - that led the team to victory in the 2008 World Series.
Some fans question if that is wise strategy considering their age - all are at least 33 - and their injury history. Howard missed most of last season and this year with leg injuries.
"How long can they be productive? I don't know," Amaro said. "Is there a risk that as they get older their production might go down? That said, I still believe that these are championship-caliber players."
Utley and Amaro shook hands at the end of the news conference, before they left the podium.
"We have a good relationship," Utley said. "We trust each other."
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