The lone move made official by the Los Angeles Dodgers during Major League Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings was re-signing Chase Utley on a one-year contract.
The veteran second baseman was first acquired in August and played a key role for the Dodgers in the absence of Howie Kendrick.
Utley filled in Kendrick at second base, and started three games at third. Although he’ll turn 37 years old on Thursday, Utley is preparing to still play in a significant number of games next season.
While re-signing Utley may have come as a surprise to some, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman believes the veteran brings plenty of value, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“It’s more about adding Chase and what he does on and off field,” said Friedman. “Obviously we feel good about where J.T. is, but he’s coming off surgery. We’ve got young guys we’re excited about, but adding a guy like Chase, his professional at-bat, his defense, the versatility that he is, added to his resume, what he brings off the field, the intangibles, the baserunning.”
The six-time All-star had the worst year of his career in 2015. In 107 combined games with the Philadelphia Phillies and Dodgers, he hit .212/.286/.343 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs.
After being waiving his no-trade clause and joining the Dodgers, Utley batted .202/.291/.363 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 34 games.
He didn’t start any postseason games, but went 1-for-3 off the bench in the National League Division Series against the New York Mets.
Utley was involved in the most-discussed play of the series when he slid hard into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the eighth inning of Game 2 to break up a double play. While he managed to accomplish that, Utley also broke Tejada’s leg in the process.
Utley was suspended two games, which he appealed. The appeal hearing has yet to be heard and it’s possible it may not take place until Spring Training. Utley will miss the first two games next season if the suspension is upheld.
As the Dodgers’ roster currently stands, Utley could very well be part of a platoon at second base with Kiké Hernandez or Jose Peraza in 2016.