His impact was modest in what was a very down year, but the Dodgers saw enough that they liked in second baseman Chase Utley to bring him back.
Utley agreed to a one-year contract with the Dodgers on Sunday, giving them a left-handed bat to complement whoever turns out to be the regular second baseman, The Times has confirmed. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.
Utley turns 37 on Dec. 17 and hit only .202/.291/.363 in 34 games with the Dodgers. The six-time All-Star is no longer viewed as an everyday player, but he does give them someone to support in-house starting candidates Enrique Hernandez and Jose Peraza. The Dodgers last season also tried Utley as a backup at third base, where Justin Turner will be coming off shoulder surgery.
This would not appear to bode well for the re-signing of second baseman Howie Kendrick, their regular second baseman last season and now a free agent. If he does sign elsewhere, the Dodgers would have traded left-hander Andrew Heaney for one year of Kendrick (plus a supplemental draft pick).
Kendrick, however, bats right-handed so it does not completely eliminate his re-signing.
Utley is a local product who played at Long Beach Poly High and UCLA. He spent his entire career with the Phillies until being traded to the Dodgers on Aug. 19. He became the regular while Kendrick was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, but shifted to the background when Kendrick returned Sept. 19.
Utley is a career .281/.365/.479 hitter. He was considered a solid presence in the clubhouse and a mature, heady player. His aggressive slide in Game 2 of the National League division series against the New York Mets broke the leg of shortstop Ruben Tejada and made Utley the center of controversy. He was given a two-game suspension that he has yet to serve.
Terms of the deal were not released, though CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman said it was for close to $7 million. The Dodgers had declined an $11-million option on Utley last month.
Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @SteveDilbeck