Utley, Phillies agree to $85 million deal


Published: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Chase Utley is quite comfortable with long-term deals.

One day after getting married, Utley agreed Sunday to an $85 million, seven-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, who can keep three-fourths of their infield in place for the rest of the decade.

"Chase puts up very good individual numbers, but at the same time, he's a team player," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said.

Utley hit .309 last season with 40 doubles, 32 homers, 102 RBIs and 131 runs. He also had a 35-game hitting streak that tied for the 10th-longest in major league history and longest by a second baseman.

After making $500,000 last year, Utley gets a $2 million signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million this year, $7.5 million in 2008, $11 million in 2009 and $15 million in each of the final seasons.

"Chase is a pretty special player," Gillick said. "The commitment speaks for itself."

Utley, who must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized, would have been eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. Utley was not available for comment because he was on his honeymoon, surely a disappointment for his female fan club, "Chase's Chicks."

It is believed the Cardinals' Albert Pujols is the only other player who got a seven-year contract after just three years of major league service. Pujols and St. Louis agreed to a $100 million, seven-year contract that began in 2004.

OBITUARY

Vern Ruhle, a former major league pitcher and coach for several teams, died after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 55.

Ruhle died Saturday at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston of complications from treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, the Cincinnati Reds said Sunday.

Ruhle pitched for Detroit, Houston, Cleveland and the California Angels from 1974-86, going 67-88 with a 3.73 ERA. He was a pitching coach with Houston, Philadelphia and the New York Mets before joining the Reds organization in 2004.

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