It’s been an unusually quiet offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers and other clubs to this point, as many premium free agents still find themselves on the open market as the calendar inches closer to February and the start of Spring Training.
With the exception of signing former starting pitcher-turned reliever Tom Koehler, the Dodgers have exclusively added to their roster in the form of trades, most notably acquiring Matt Kemp from the Atlanta Braves and Scott Alexander from the Kansas City Royals.
The club is reportedly pondering a reunion with Yu Darvish, as the two parties held a meeting last week. In addition to Darvish, Los Angeles also has interest in re-signing Chase Utley, according to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
My understanding is the Dodgers have interest in a reunion with Chase Utley, but it is complicated by both financial implications (even $1 million, after all, counts toward the luxury tax and reduces some flexibility) and Utley’s reduced utility on the roster.
In 353 plate appearances across 127 games last season, Utley hit .236/.324/.405 with 20 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 34 RBI. He went hitless in the postseason, however, but still managed to draw two walks and two hit by pitches over 19 trips to the plate.
Whether the Dodgers decide to bring Utley back into the fold depends on his asking price, as the club has prioritized staying beneath the $197 million luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season.
As it currently stands, the Dodgers have roughly $17 million at their disposal before exceeding the self-imposed limit. They must account for roster bonuses, incentives and future midseason acquisitions, though, which could complicate matters even more for additional free agent signings.
Roster spots in Los Angeles may also be scarce, given the organization’s excellent depth. The club just acquired left-handed hitting utility man Jake Peter in a three-team trade with the Chicago White Sox, who could hypothetically fill the role Utley served over the previous two and a half seasons.