Free agent Chase Utley, who has been working out at Dodger Stadium all offseason with other Dodgers, will be returning to the team, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports.
Utley, 39, shared time at second base last year with Logan Forsythe. Offensively, Utley’s performance continued to regress, as he hit .236 with a .728 OPS in 127 regular-season games and went 0-for-15 in the postseason.
But Utley’s leadership and clubhouse impact are immeasurable, and general manager Farhan Zaidi said two weeks ago the club was open to bringing Utley back.
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Utley’s team ethic and personal investment give him leverage when necessary. He’s manager Dave Roberts’ favorite conduit to convey the subtle reminders that keep a clubhouse running smoothly through a long, stressful summer.
The 39-year-old Utley has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Dodgers after playing 12-plus years for the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 127 games last season, Utley hit .236 with eight home runs, 34 RBI and six stolen bases. He primarily appeared at second base but also played 17 contests at first base and was a designated hitter on three occasions during interleague play.
L.A. traded for Utley during the 2015 season after his long, successful Philadelphia run.
Utley has now re-signed with Los Angeles in three consecutive winters, earning a $7 million deal for 2016 and a $2 million contract a year ago.
Utley is just the second free-agent signing of the winter for the quiet Dodgers, who inked righty Tom Koehler to a $2 million deal in December. Los Angeles has also added Matt Kemp and lefty reliever Scott Alexander this winter while losing Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson (in a trade with Atlanta) and Brandon Morrow, Curtis Granderson and Yu Darvish as free agents.
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