Either way, Utley will get a substantial raise from the $500,000 he made in
2006. The 27-year-old is coming off a career season in which he set a new franchise
record for homers at his position and fashioned a 35-game hitting streak. His 32
homers, 102 RBIs and 203 hits all topped Major League second basemen. It was no surprise that Utley was elected to his first All-Star team.
There have been rumblings that the Phillies are exploring the possibility of a
long-term deal with Utley, essentially buying out his three years of arbitration
eligibility and possibly a year or two of free agency.
"We're just going to continue to talk and that's all I can say," general
manager Pat Gillick said. "We have three players eligible for arbitration and we'd like to avoid it as much as possible. Hopefully, we can make a resolution with all three before a hearing date."
Brett Myers submitted a figure of $5.9 million, while the Phillies offered $5 million. The right-hander led the starters with 12 wins and a 3.91 ERA. Last January, he agreed to a $3.3 million deal in his first year of eligibility.
Geary is going through the process for the first time. He asked for $925,000, while Philadelphia offered $750,000. Geary enjoyed a fine 2006, establishing himself as a reliable late-inning option for manager Charlie Manuel.
Assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. seconded Gillick's desire to not go to a hearing, something they haven't done since beating Travis Lee in 2001. Hearings would take place in February.
Madson agreed to $1.1 million on Sunday and Rowand avoided the sometimes messy
process on Tuesday. Rowand can still earn more than $4.35 with performance bonuses. He
played in 109 games and batted .262 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs for the Phillies in
2006. His season ended on Aug. 21, when he broke his left ankle in a collision with
While not eligible for arbitration until after the 2007 season, questions
persisted as to whether the Phillies would explore a long-term deal with National League MVP Ryan Howard. Gillick wouldn't comment, though sources suggest they'll hold off discussing this until next winter.
Howard will likely still receive a raise to nearly $1 million from the Phillies, who control his rights until after the 2011 season. That would be
comparable to the $900,000 Albert Pujols made with St. Louis in 2003. At the time, it was the largest one-year contract for a player with just two years of experience.