SATURDAY: The Dodgers have announced the signing.
TUESDAY, 7:45pm: Utley’s deal will be for two years and $2MM when it becomes official, tweets Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times.
3:43pm: Utley has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Dodgers, Heyman now tweets. Certainly, the multi-year deal comes as a bit of a surprise, given his age, though it seems likely to come at a relatively modest annual rate.
10:22am: There’s a deal in place, per Heyman (via Twitter).
10:14am: The Dodgers appear to be closing in on a deal to bring back infielder Chase Utley for another run with the organization. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reported last night that the sides were engaged in serious talks, while MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick tweets that Utley appears to have a locker set up at the team’s spring facility, lacking only a nameplate.
All indications of late have been that the 39-year-old would repeat his turn as a platoon piece. At this point, it seems only a matter of time before things are formalized.
If the sides do indeed wrap up a deal, Utley will presumably spend most of his time spelling the right-handed-hitting Logan Forsythe at second base. Long a high-end everyday player, Utley’s productivity had understandably waned with age. He was effective in a surprisingly robust 2016 season, over which he took 565 plate appearances, but slid into a part-time role last year.
Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts was exceedingly careful both to limit the wear and tear and to deploy Utley against right-handed pitching last year. Utley saw time in 127 games but tallied only 353 plate appearances, as the Dodgers sought to utilize him in advantageous situations. He batted .236/.324/.405 with eight homers on the season as a whole, though he strode to the plate against lefties on just 28 occasions.
In each of the past two years, Utley has delivered just-below-average overall offensive output, with successive 96 wRC+ efforts. He still grades as a quality baserunner and average defender even as he closes in on his fortieth birthday. Clearly, part of the math here for the Dodgers is Utley’s oft-lauded, hard-nosed veteran presence.