With most of the Los Angeles Dodger faithful pining for bullpen help, the team made a deal on Wednesday, but it wasn’t for a reliever.
The Dodgers acquired second baseman Chase Utley from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor leaguers Darnell Sweeney and John Richy. With Howie Kendrick out at least two more weeks, the Dodgers wanted to solidify their current team and add depth, freeing Kiké Hernandez to possibly spell Joc Pederson in center field. The Dodgers were also linked to outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the Boston Red Sox, but this deal appears to accomplish what the front office wanted.
Acquiring Utley signifies a reunion between the second baseman and Dodgers shortstop, Jimmy Rollins. The duo played together up the middle since Utley’s rookie year in 2003 and they even won a World Series together.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Rollins discussed the possible deal before it was finalized:
I think it would be a lot of fun,” Rollins said. “One, he loved this team, went to school at UCLA, plays well at Dodger Stadium, actually beats up the Dodgers. If everything goes through and he’s here, it would be nice to see him play home games in a place he’s comfortable playing.”
Utley has hit well at Dodger Stadium in his career, with an average of .320 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 37 games. He was a force against in the postseason in 2008 and 2009 when the Phillies eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Rollins went on to say what his former double play partner would bring to the Dodgers:
He can add a lot. Hopefully, No. 1 first and foremost, if he’s healthy and in a good place. That being the case, the way he’s swung the bat, the way he’s been playing, we can use it, anybody can. He’s a tough guy. More than anything, there will be some new excitement in the clubhouse. He’ll have the chance to play meaningful baseball late in the year. It’s what we all want.”
Utley goes from one of the worst teams in the league to the NL West-leading Dodgers and the front office is hoping that sparks the former All-Star.