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Salisbury: Chase Utley, Phillies discussing extension?

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury suggests that the Phillies and second baseman Chase Utley are working on a contract extension. There is nothing concrete and neither side has given any indication that there have, indeed, been extension talks. Salisbury cites anonymous sources and uses some circumstantial evidence that point to it.

To wit:

• A person with knowledge of the situation says the Phillies have had recent talks with Utley’s representation about a contract extension.

• Word in well-placed baseball circles is that the Phillies are not listening to trade offers for Utley.

• The decision to broaden second-base prospect Cesar Hernandez’ utility skills by having him play some outfield shouldn’t be underestimated, especially upon further review of the comment that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made to CSNPhilly.com on Sunday.

“If we’re fortunate enough to keep Chase in our uniform, which we hope to do, Cesar becomes a utility piece,” Amaro said Sunday.

• In the same conversation, Amaro was asked point blank if he’d begun to speak with Utley’s representation about an extension.

“We wouldn’t discuss it even if we did,” he said.

He didn’t say no. Amaro isn’t always forthcoming when it comes to matters of negotiations, but he has a way of shooting down the ridiculous. He didn’t shoot this one down.

An extension is the only way the Phillies can justify not trading Utley within the next week. They fell to 49-52 with a brutal loss last night to the Cardinals. Entering the night, Baseball Prospectus gave the Phillies a four percent chance to make the playoffs, three percent to win the NL East specifically. Comparatively, the Braves were 92 percent to win the division and the Nationals five percent. If the Phillies aren’t sellers — particularly at this point, in a seller’s market — then their standards for contention are remarkably lax.

Hopefully, we’ll be seeing Michael Young, Delmon Young, Carlos Ruiz, and Jonathan Papelbon made available quite soon.