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Dodgers, Utley finalize reunion with 2-year pact

Veteran second baseman signs third free-agent deal with LA
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chase Utley undermined his negotiating leverage with the Dodgers this winter by being honest. And it worked.

The club on Saturday finally announced his return with a $2 million contract spread over two seasons to help the Dodgers remain under the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chase Utley undermined his negotiating leverage with the Dodgers this winter by being honest. And it worked.

The club on Saturday finally announced his return with a $2 million contract spread over two seasons to help the Dodgers remain under the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold.

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"Early on I let the Dodgers know I'd like to continue to play, and staying in L.A. would be my first choice," Utley said. "Probably not the best negotiation strategy, but at this point in my career I had to be honest with them."

So, a week after the World Series, Utley resumed workouts at Dodger Stadium, even though he wasn't officially a Dodger.

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"We've built a good relationship for the short time I've been around here," said Utley. "I have a lot of trust in the guys in the front office and I think they do the same with me. I was grateful they allowed me to continue to work out there and now I'm here."

Utley, 39, will serve as a left-handed-hitting backup second baseman to Logan Forsythe and a powerful clubhouse presence. He is virtually idolized by teammates for his professional and gritty approach.

"Speaking for the players and coaches, we're excited to have him back," said manager Dave Roberts. "To have Chase on the roster makes your team better. Whatever the role, I know Chase is in on it. Whatever the role, I know he supports it."

Tweet from @Dodgers: Welcome back, Chase! pic.twitter.com/H8iiVWmcEA

On the field, Utley's game has tailed off with age. He hit only .236 last season, 40 points below his career average, and went 0-for-15 in the postseason. His eight home runs tied a career low and 34 RBIs were the second-lowest total of his career.

Utley, though, is a six-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, all with the Phillies, who traded him to the Dodgers during the 2015 season. This is his third free-agent contract with the Dodgers; he also re-signed last year after the start of Spring Training.

Video: Utley returns to Dodgers on two-year deal

Having recently relocated his home base to Southern California, the former UCLA star said continuing to play was an easy decision.

"I've enjoyed playing baseball for a long time, I still enjoy it and I think I can be productive in a lot of ways," he said. "I'm excited to be back, to get spring started."

Promoted to the Major Leagues by the Phillies in 2003, this will be Utley's 16th Major League season. Among active second basemen, Utley leads in games played, runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, home runs and RBIs.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Chase Utley