Farhan Zaidi Wrote 3,000 Words On Why Dodgers Needed To Trade For Chase Utley
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Chase Utley from the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 19, 2015, he was a 36-year-old who was hitting .217/.284/.333 with a 64 wRC+.

However, the Dodgers front office knew he could do more to help the team as president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and then-general manager Farhan Zaidi sought to change the culture in the clubhouse and on the field during their first season running the team.

Utley wound up re-signing with the Dodgers multiple times before retiring after the 2018 World Series.

While Utley became revered throughout the Dodgers organization, Zaidi took exhaustive measures to explain why the team needed to pursue a trade for the veteran, via according to Peter Gammons of The Athletic:

When it became known that Utley was available, Zaidi wrote a 3,000-word treatise on why he believed they should acquire him. “Let me start by going backwards,” says Zaidi, who is now a National League West rival as president of baseball ops for the Giants. “I loved watching him play, his perseverance, good defense, baserunning, hitting, how he played the game. Down by five runs, he’d take to two strikes, to make the pitcher work, to help teammates see that pitcher’s pitches. He was such a competitor, he set a standard in the game, he clearly had a unique baseball IQ.”

Utley only hit .236/.315/.381 with a 91 wRC+ for the Dodgers, but he did provide the impact Friedman and Zaidi were looking to acquire. Former Dodgers teammates Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez all credited Utley for their success on the field.

Utley also helped fix the Dodgers’ baserunning issues during his first few months with the team. Before acquiring Utley, the Dodgers were 29th of 30 in team BsR — Fangraphs’ baserunning statistic — at -16.9. The rest of the season, the Dodgers posted a 1.6 BsR, good for 11th in the league.

The respect the players had for Utley was most seen through Hernandez, who constantly followed the veteran around and even called him “Dad.” In 2019, the year after Utley’s retirement, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Utley’s impact on the team continued to resonate.

Filling leadership role after Utley

When Utley retired, David Freese helped fill the veteran leadership role. Now, Albert Pujols has taken that over by providing energy and knowledge to the other players.

Cody Bellinger said he is fortunate to be lockermates with Pujols and wants to “take full advantage of being next to a future Hall of Famer.”

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