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.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.