Although the Los Angeles Dodgers have not officially confirmed the deal, multiple reports agree that veteran second baseman Chase Utley will be returning to the team in 2016 on a one-year deal.
Utley, a native of Los Angeles, was traded to the Dodgers midway through last season after spending his first twelve-plus Major League seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, a tenure that included six All-Star nominations. Last season, Utley earned $15 million, a rate that significantly overpaid Utley for his .217/.284/.333 slash line in 74 games with the Phillies. In August, the last-place Phillies agreed to a waiver trade with the first-place Dodgers, sending Utley to Los Angeles in exchange for prospects John Richy and Darnell Sweeney.
Utley’s 37-game tenure with the Dodgers (including three playoff games) was headlined by an unquestionably dirty slide wide of second base that broke the leg of New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the NLDS. Combined with Los Angeles’ league-leading payroll, the Dodgers’ hints at villainy could make this an ever-more-popular team for neutral fans to root against.
At the moment, Utley actually stands as the team’s starting second baseman: last year’s starter, Howie Kendrick, is currently a free agent. Perhaps Los Angeles is willing to stand pat at the position heading into 2016. After all, fellow ex-Phillie Jimmy Rollins was the team’s primary starting shortstop last year at age 36.