Posted on February 13, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s been a relatively quiet offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the team has made a few moves, including the one they made Tuesday. According to multiple reports, the Dodgers have agreed to re-sign infielder Chase Utley. Financial details of the deal are not yet known, but it’s reportedly a two-year deal for Utley.
The 2018 season will be Utley’s third full season with the Dodgers. He was initially traded to Los Angeles in August 2015 after more than a decade with the Philadelphia Phillies. He signed one-year deals with the Dodgers each of the past two seasons, earning $7 million in 2016 and $2 million last year.
The 39-year old Utley is by no means the player he used to be. He started to show his age last year, hitting just .236 with an OPS of .728. He then went 0 for 15 for the Dodgers during the postseason. Utley also spent last season in a part-time role after accumulating more than 500 at-bats during the 2016 season. He’s likely slated for a similar role this season. However, the Dodgers feel that his value is in the experience and leadership he brings to the table.
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“He’s obviously had a huge impact these two years on our clubhouse,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said of Utley earlier this month before the two sides agreed on a reunion. “We do have young players looking for more at-bats, particularly at second base with a multitude of options, as far as a baseball fit. But if we can get together on a role and what the opportunity looks like, his impact in the clubhouse is something we’d love to have as well.”
Utley will begin the season firmly behind Logan Forsythe on the depth chart at second base. Utley filled in at second base when Forsythe missed a month with a broken toe early last season. The two then split time the rest of the season with Utley getting most of his at-bats against right-handed pitchers. Both started 68 games at second base last season with Forsythe also seeing extended action at third base when Justin Turner was on the DL.
In addition to his 68 starts at second base last year, Utley also started 10 games at first base. He also has some experience playing third base. He’s likely to see playing time at all three positions this season. Before signing Utley, the Dodgers had no established big leaguers providing depth on the infield. Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez are capable of playing most infield positions. However, Taylor is in line to be the team’s everyday center fielder while Hernandez could see a bulk of the playing time in left field. That should create enough opportunities for Utley to get regular at-bats.
Obviously, re-signing the 39-year old Utley doesn’t move the needle much for the Dodgers. He’s unlikely to make a huge impact in a part-time role. However, he does provide infield depth as well as leadership in the clubhouse. Utley also figures to do a lot of the little things that championship teams need. In that sense, bringing back Utley is a no-brainer and a positive move for the Dodgers.