With the news that Howie Kendrick was likely going to be shuffled around the infield this season in the hopes of helping the Los Angeles Dodgers as much as possible, it now seems like Kendrick won’t be the only one undergoing a constant change. Enter Chase Utley.
When Utley re-signed for $7 million over one season earlier this offseason, it appeared as if the second base job was his. Or at least, his likely permanent position. But with Kendrick back in the fold, it seems like Utley will be used all over the infield in whatever ways he can help the team.
From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Utley said that when he signed, he expected to play second base, third base and first base. Even with Kendrick’s return, Utley said that hasn’t changed.
Utley playing third base is a little interesting since he’s only played a grand total of three games and 25 innings as a third baseman in his career. On top of that, he’s only played 33 games and 230.1 innings as a first baseman. He’s been a second baseman his entire career, but now that seems open to change.
If Utley is able to put together at least meaningful innings at third base, or even first base, while Justin Turner attempts to come back from microfracture surgery, then he could be one of the team’s most valuable players simply because of his utility ability.
Then again, a lot also hinges on how well he hits in 2016. In 141 plate appearances for the Dodgers last season, the now 37-year old Utley hit .202 and only slugged three home runs. They’ll need someone closer to the 2014 Utley (.270, 11 home runs) if this plan is to fully work.
With Kendrick likely being moved all around, and now Utley being used in various roles, it seems like the Dodgers now have enough flexibility to sustain most anything that might hit them. We’ll see how it plays out this upcoming season, but for now it seems like the team has some viable options at play here.