Cleveland is “intrigued” by Chase Utley according to a report from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The second baseman is coming off of a one-year, $7 million contract that he signed with the Dodgers. As a free agent, it seemed like his chances of returning to the Dodgers completely dissolved once they traded for Logan Forsythe.
Of course, Cleveland also has a premier player patrolling second base which would seem to prohibit signing Utley. Of course, this could be overcome. Heyman editorializes:
This is far from a logical fit, as the Indians have a star left-handed-hitting second baseman in Jason Kipnis, but the Indians could still consider Utley for a possible utility role, if he’s interested.
Few teams have been seeking a second baseman this winter beyond the Dodgers, and Utley’s age isn’t helping him. He did have a nice year with L.A. last year before wearing down late and in the playoffs while playing every day out of necessity.
Through a combination then of his age and the muted market for second basemen, Utley has floundered in free agency the entire winter. By the end of it, it could mean that a team like Cleveland winds up getting a very good utility lefty bat on the bench at a very team-friendly price.
Utley is coming off of a great bounce back campaign in his age-37 season. In 565 plate appearances, Utley posted a .319 OBP and a .145 ISO—his highest since 2012. Perhaps most interestingly though, was the fact that Utley didn’t ground into a single double play all season—the first player since Craig Biggio to have at least 450 plate appearances without a single double play.
While Utley’s strikeout rate seems to be on the rise, and his walk rate on the decline, the 38-year-old veteran could still help a contending team like Cleveland with some slick fielding and his presence. Whether or not Utley can accept the fact that he will not be a starting second baseman remains to be seen.