Normally, I'm not a big fan of "locking up" your young players (long) before their arbitration or FA. Like what the Mets did with Reyes and Wright. Those guys were so far away from FA and the Mets controlled their contracts for something like four more years. Why guarantee the money? And they really did not buy out any of the FA years. Sure they have cost certainty, but the downside risk seems to great. But that is just me.
At first I thought the Utley deal made some sense, well as much sense as any 7 year deal. It probably is very backloaded, which of course is always nice for the current GM (like Riccardi did with the Wells and Overbay deals). But at least they are buying out 4 years of FA. But then I looked at the math a bit more.
He was a 3 year player - with three years of arbitration before FA. So you figure 2MM this year, 4MM in 08 and 8MM in 09. So what they did was not arbitrate the next three years and sign a 4 year $70MM FA contract? $17MM/year for him? Maybe I don't like that one so much. Unless they think the market is continue to go up and up.
I thought Gillick was a smart man.