Since coming over to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, second baseman Chase Utley has provided valuable experience and leadership in the clubhouse for an organization still searching for their first World Series title since 1988.
He unexpectedly served as the primary second baseman in 2016, but closed the season mired in a slump. So it was somewhat of a surprise when the Dodgers re-signed Utley last winter, though the front office later made it clear how much they valued his clubhouse presence.
Utley got off to a slow start in 2017, but with Logan Forsythe struggling against right-handed pitching, Utley’s playing time began to grow. Not surprisingly, as the weather began to heat up in the summer, so did the six-time All-Star’s bat.
He finished the season hitting .236/.324/.405 over 353 plate appearances in 127 games. He tallied 20 doubles, four triples and eight home runs, to go along with six stolen bases, 43 runs scored and 32 walks.
Utley is again a free agent this offseason, and although his name hasn’t been thrown out much in rumors, it was recently reported that the Dodgers may have some interest in bringing him back one again.
And while he is not officially a member of the organization currently, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, he is still working out at Dodger Stadium with former teammates:
Chase Utley is a free agent. He’s also working out with a group of Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, for those wondering if a return might happen.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) January 22, 2018
It’s clear that the 39-year-old is not the player he once was as he went 0-for-15 in the postseason. Utley believes he still has some left in the tank though, as has made it clear that he would like to play this season rather than retire.
With Forsythe still locked in at second base and expected to improve on his struggles against right-handed pitching, the Dodgers don’t really have a need for a left-handed hitting second baseman.
But if no one else offers Utley a contract, then it’s certainly plausible that the Dodgers bring the veteran back for another year.