Dodgers re-sign Chase Utley to low-risk deal

With no clear full-time starting second baseman and a (potential) lack of left-handed bats off the bench, the Dodgers re-signed Chase Utley on Sunday. Terms of the deal are not yet known.

I wrote a bit on Friday about how bringing Utley back made some sense.

“Utley’s 34 games with the Dodgers left a lot to be desired. He had just an 84 wRC+ and .291 on-base percentage. He was still able to post a 0.5 WAR because he played good defense, but he has always been known as a bat-first player. If he is in a true platoon role, he might be a more productive player (ala Andre Ethier). He had 25 of his 31 extra base hits against right-handers and struck out about 4 percent less against righties than lefties. Take into account he played most of the season with an ankle injury he sustained in January. Once he returned from a DL stint, he hit well (148 wRC+ in August). He still has a little left in the tank, and that little bit could be reached if he’s used correctly.

His dirty “slide” in the playoffs notwithstanding, having a left-handed option there (and off the bench in general) wouldn’t be a bad thing. The Dodgers might not be totally comfortable going with just Hernandez and Peraza at second base. The free agent options outside of Kendrick and Ben Zobrist aren’t appealing and teams aren’t lining up to trade cost-controlled, good second baseman (i.e. Jose Altuve, Jason Kipnis, etc.). He’d also be much cheaper than re-signing Kendrick or signing Zobrist, who, at potential $60-plus million over four years isn’t terribly appealing. And if Utley isn’t productive, the Dodgers have shown a willingness to eat money to free up roster spots. I don’t think it’ll come to that, but if it does, the front office won’t hesitate to jettison him.”

That’s about it. There isn’t a ton of analysis that could go into bringing back Utley. I think it’s a good move, and it’s likely to be low-risk. his $15 million option was declined earlier this winter, and I’m thinking his deal will be for a year and for somewhere in the $5-7 million range. He should platoon at second and be a backup at the corner infield spots.

Update: yep.

This also all but puts an end to bringing back Howie Kendrick. I didn’t think he’d be back anyway, but with Enrique Hernandez, Jose Peraza and Utley on the roster, there really isn’t room for Kendrick. When he signs with Anaheim, the Dodgers will get a supplemental 1st-round pick.

This is the calm before the storm.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.