Entering 2016, if you said Chase Utley would get the second-most playing time he's had in a season since 2009, you would have been asked for a urine test, but that's exactly what happened as injuries and struggling teammates paved the way for the veteran second baseman to appear in 138 contests. It helped that Utley bounced back versus right-handed pitching as his demise versus southpaws worsened. With a righty on the hill, Utley sported a respectable .809 OPS, including 10 of his 14 homers. Against southpaws, he fanned 29 percent of the time, pushing his overall contact rate below 80 percent for the first time of his illustrious career. There's a chance Utley can survive another year in a platoon role, but with declining plate skills, mediocre power with almost no speed, Utley's best chance to be a fantasy asset is in a single league format. With middle infield so plush, mixed leaguers are better served to find someone with upside.
Utley will get some work at first base during spring training, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Logan Forsythe's signing signaled the end of Utley's run as the Dodgers' everyday second baseman. With that, Utley will get reps at first base as a way of increasing his versatility. Considering Friday's announcement that Adrian Gonzalez will miss two weeks due to elbow inflammation, Utley figures to have plenty of opportunity to learn the position and could see playing time there when the Dodgers begin playing exhibition games.
Utley will remain in Los Angeles, as he agreed to a one-year deal with the club on Friday, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Financial aspects of the deal are currently unknown. The 38-year-old veteran slashed .252/.319/.396 across 565 plate appearances in 2016. With the addition of Logan Forsythe and Justin Turner to the Dodgers' infield, Utley projects to be primarily used as a utility option in 2017, mainly facing right-handed pitching.
Utley is not in the lineup Thursday for the Dodgers' Game 5 NLCS matchup with the Cubs. Utley typically heads to the bench when left-handers take the mound, and Thursday is no different with Jon Lester toeing the rubber for Chicago. Kike Hernandez will fill in for him and bat leadoff.
Utley is not in the lineup for the Dodgers' NLDS matchup with the Nationals on Monday. Utley will be held out with left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the bump for the Nationals. Charlie Culberson will fill in at second base, and Howie Kendrick will serve as the Dodgers' leadoff hitter in Utley's place.
Utley is not in the lineup for Friday's game against the Giants. Utley will sit for the second time in as many days with a left-hander on the mound for the opponent. Charlie Culberson will man the keystone for the Dodgers on Friday night.