The Dodgers are mulling a return of veteran second baseman Chas Utley, general manager Farhan Zaidi told reporters at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. on Thursday.
"We were happy with his performance and what he brought to our clubhouse," Zaidi said, per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times. "We’re evaluating a few different options at second base and the infield, and he’s certainly a part of that conversation."
The Dodgers declined Utley's $11 million club option for 2016 last Friday, with Utley instead receiving a $2 million buyout paid by the Phillies per terms of the trade with Philadelphia on Aug. 19.
Incumbent second baseman Howie Kendrick was made a qualifying offer of one-year, $15.8 million, but is expected to decline that on Friday. If Kendrick signs elsewhere, the Dodgers will receive a supplemental pick in the 2016 draft in between the first and second rounds.
Utley hit just .212/.286/.343 in 2015, including .202/.291/.363 in 34 games with the Dodgers, and he turns 37 eight days before Christmas. So bringing him back would be essentially a bet on his health providing a bounce-back of sorts.
It would also signal a willingness to mix in time for either Kiké Hernandez or Jose Peraza at second base, both right-handed, to partner with the left-handed Utley. Hernandez started at six different positions for the Dodgers in 2015, and Peraza saw time at shortstop and in center field in addition to second base in Triple-A after the Dodgers acquired him in July.
Utley presumably could also occasionally fill in a third base, where he played for the first time in his major league career in 2015 with the Dodgers, for all of three games at 25 innings.
"The benefit of versatility is having a number of guys who can play different spots," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Monday.