Reaching free agency a second time in as many years led to a sense of uncertainty for Chase Utley. While the Los Angeles Dodgers had a clear void at second base, the club never seemed intent on re-signing Utley to fill the role.
However, the Dodgers did remain interested in a reunion with the veteran. That eventually led to Utley agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract. He reportedly accepted less money to re-sign with the Dodgers.
Prior to that point, Utley was said to have received multiple contract offers, and was down to deciding from a list of teams that are poised to contend for a World Series this season. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Chicago Cubs had some interest, but were not among the clubs to submit a contract offer:
FWIW: #Cubs had brief conversations with Utley about a pinch-hitting role, per sources. Talks did not grow serious. Team never made offer.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 22, 2017
Had Utley signed with the reigning World Series champions, a pinch-hitter role is less than what’s expected with the Dodgers. The 38-year-old figures to back up Logan Forsythe at second base, while also providing Adrian Gonzalez with an occasional day off.
Utley appeared in 138 games last season, which was the most since 2014. He batted .252/.319/.396 with 26 doubles, 14 home runs, 52 RBI and a 95 OPS+. Beyond what production Utley brings on the field, he’s revered by teammates for his clubhouse presence and leadership.
Clayton Kershaw reportedly was among a group of Dodgers who lobbied the front office to re-sign the Long Beach, Calif., native. As much as the organization values Utley’s intangibles, the admiration is two-fold.
Upon reporting to Camelback Ranch after his one-year contract was made official, Utley said remaining with the Dodgers and potentially winning a World Series was an opportunity he simply could not pass on.