Needing to find a replacement at second base with Howie Kendrick on the disabled list due to a hamstring strain, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Chase Utley on Aug. 20.
Part of the deal included the Philadelphia Phillies sending $4 million to offset the remaining $6 million on Utley’s $15 million salary for the 2015 season.
The veteran reunited with former teammate Jimmy Rollins, and allowed the Dodgers to move Kiké Hernandez into center field on a full-time basis.
Once Kendrick returned from injury, Utley saw some time at third base and was relegated to a role as a pinch-hitter. Given that Utley was injured for much of the year, he failed to meet the required plate appearances for a 2016 option to vest.
As such, the Dodgers can, and are largely expected to, decline Utley’s option (valued from $5-11 million). The 36 year old nonetheless plans on playing next season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
“One hundred percent he is playing next year,” Utley’s representative, Joel Wolfe, told The Post.
Assuming Utley does become a free agent, re-signing with the Dodgers for a lesser salary would be possible, albeit perhaps somewhat unlikely.
Utley’s biggest moment with the Dodgers came in Game 2 of the National League Division Series when his hard slide upended New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg, and turned momentum for the Dodgers.
Major League Baseball handed down a two-game suspension as a result of the slide, though Utley appealed and remained eligible to play throughout the NLDS. However, then-Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn’t utilize Utley until a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning of Game 5.
Once the Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason, the appeal hearing was postponed for a later date. If the suspension is upheld, Utley will miss the first two games of the 2016 season.