Philadelphia Phillies icon Chase Utley had an interesting offseason. Depending on who you ask, the Phillies considered Utley as a candidate to be Gabe Kapler's bench coach, with the thought being that Utley could retire after he didn't record a hit in 15 postseason at-bats. Instead, in the midst of one of the stranger offseasons in baseball history, Utley continued to work out at the Dodgers facility, a sign that he expected to return to the Dodgers. Ultimately, Utley, who many thought may retire, signed a two-year deal to return to the Dodgers.
Interestingly, Utley hinted to Pedro Moura of The Athletic that if the Dodgers had won Game 7 of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros, he may have walked away:
Now, if the Dodgers had won one last game on Nov. 1, he said, he’s unsure if he would have been back.
“It didn’t unfold that way,” he said. “So, it’s hard to answer.”
Prior to Game 7 of the World Series, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts allowed Utley, who ultimately struck out when asked to pinch-hit in the game, to deliver the pregame speech to his teammates. Even in a veteran-heavy clubhouse, Utley is the only player on the Dodgers 40-man roster that has played in a World Series that his team won. So while he didn't ultimately become the Phillies bench coach, in addition to getting some at-bats for the Dodgers in 2018 (and maybe 2019), the team is essentially asking him to be another bench coach.
Utley, 39, still does provide something as a player as well. In 2017, he slashed .236/.324/.405 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs. Utley, who regularly was among the league leaders in WAR in the 2000s, still was above replacement level in 2017, according to both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.
For Utley, it's rather incredible that he's going to play at least until he's 40. There was a point early in his 30s where it felt like injuries would prematurely end his career. Instead, he's again in camp, preparing for another shot at winning his second World Series title, a decade after his first.