Under Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi's guidance, the Los Angeles Dodgers have prioritized versatility and contingency plans -- to the point where their depth charts resemble spider webs.
sources: gutierrez gets $2.6M plus 400 incentives on his #dodgers deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 11, 2017
Chase Utley is coming back to the Dodgers on a one-year deal, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) February 11, 2017
For both players, signing with the Dodgers represents a homecoming of sorts.
Gutierrez, 34 in a week-plus, was originally drafted by the Dodgers, only to be shipped to the Cleveland Indians for Milton Bradley. Once a top-flight defensive center fielder, his athletic ability has deteriorated due to repeated injuries -- last season marked the first time since 2011 he'd appeared in at least 80 games. Still, Gutierrez provides value by being an asset against left-handed pitching. Baseball Prospectus tracks three-year platoon splits and assigns greater weight to recent numbers. According to BP, Gutierrez has hit .286/.366/.529 versus left-handed pitching. (Comparatively, he's hit .198/.253/.394 against righties.) The Dodgers will presumably pair Gutierrez with Andrew Toles in a left-field platoon.
Utley, meanwhile, is now on his third stint with the Dodgers, having been traded to L.A. in 2015 and subsequently re-signed last offseason. His role heading forward is tougher to pin down than Gutierrez's, given the Dodgers just acquired Logan Forsythe to fill their keystone void. Yet, as with Gutierrez, Utley requires careful supervision. BP has him down as a .267/.335/.420 hitter against righties the past three years, and a .191/.269/.311 hitter against lefties. The 38-year-old Utley will enter the season as the world's most overqualified pinch-hitter and infield insurance policy, should Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, or Forsythe suffer an injury.
Gutierrez and Utley, then, fit the mold for the Dodgers, in that they're useful when properly deployed. Manager Dave Roberts seemed to have a great appreciation for seeking the platoon advantage in his rookie season. Don't be surprised if Roberts gets plenty of mileage from Gutierrez and Utley by doing the same in 2017.