Chase Utley holding press conference to reportedly announce retirement at season’s end

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The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that second baseman Chase Utley will be holding a press conference on Friday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. The topic of the press conference has not been made public, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Chase Utley will announce his retirement at the end of the season.

Utley has made only 130 plate appearances this year, in part because he missed time on the disabled list with a sprained thumb. When he has played, he has not been effective, hitting .231/.313/.331 with only one homer and ten extra base hits in total.

Utley, 39, has played in the majors for 16 seasons and, for the most part, they have been amazing seasons. He’s a career .276/.358/.466 hitter who has made six All-Star appearances and has played in the World Series three times. He was the unquestioned clubhouse leader of the excellent Philadelphia Phillies teams for which he played in his prime and, even as a role player with the Dodgers, he has been spoken of as an uncommonly respected and influential veteran presence. There was talk this past offseason of him possibly taking a coaching job back in Philly, but the Dodgers signed him again anyway, in large part for the leadership he provides.

We’ll update later if this is, indeed, the end of Utley’s playing career and will provide a retrospective of one of the best second basemen in modern baseball memory.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.