For what was an offseason filled with plenty of turnover, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2019 season with many new faces on the roster. Among the most notable departures from the previous year included Chase Utley, who formally retired over the winter after 16 incredible seasons.
Utley spent parts of four years with the Dodgers after being acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015. Though his production waned in recent seasons, he remained a valuable asset to the club for his leadership and excellent work ethic.
Not surprisingly, Utley developed strong relationships with many of his former teammates. He particularly had a strong effect on Corey Seager and Kiké Hernandez — the latter of which credited Utley for his breakout 2018 season.
During an interview with ESPN’s Buster Olney, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts touched on Utley’s impact still being felt within the organization:
“To be honest with you, I think it’s a collective thing. Chase, we had him for three years here, and parts of four before I got here, and his impact is still resonating with our guys. You look at the way Joc has evolved, Kiké has evolved. You look at David Freese, so if you say one-for-one, apples-for-apples, David Freese is probably that guy that’s supplanted Chase. But a lot of guys are taking what Chase kind of brought to the table. Corey Seager is another one, Clayton Kershaw. All these different guys. How Chase impacted us on the field, off the field, preparation, in game, student of the game, taking in information, all that stuff, it’s still at the forefront of all of us.”
As Roberts noted, David Freese took increased leadership role with Utley now retired. The 36-year-old was lauded by many of his teammates for making a positive impact on the clubhouse. Of course, Freese himself has now entered retirement.
Even with his playing days now behind him, Utley is still strongly connected to the Dodgers. He joined the SportsNet LA broadcast team as a studio analyst this year and has a role in the front office.
With the luxury of leaning on Freese or Utley no longer an option, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman admitted he was uncertain how the club would go about filling that leadership void.