In a recent discussion about what separates the Cubs and Dodgers at the top of the National League from some of the other good NL teams, the biggest difference was their quality depth. A team like the Nationals is just as good at the top of the roster, but when it came to having good, starting-caliber pieces to plug into the lineup should an injury occur (or just to rotate in and keep guys fresh), the Cubs and Dodgers were way ahead of the pack. Specifically, the Cubs really have it on the positional side, and the Dodgers really have it on the pitching side.
In recent weeks, the Cubs have done a great deal to step up on the pitching side, too, adding Brett Anderson, Eddie Butler, and Alec Mills as quality depth for their rotation.
And now it looks like the other “best” team in the National League is making additions on the positional side to keep up pace:
Chase Utley is coming back to the Dodgers on a one-year deal, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) February 11, 2017
sources: gutierrez gets $2.6M plus 400 incentives on his #dodgers deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 11, 2017
Each of Chase Utley and Franklin Gutierrez represent solid veteran depth additions for a Dodgers roster that was already fairly well-loaded, but could stand to have more just-in-case options on the positional side.
Gutierrez, who turns 34 in 10 days, has quietly been an excellent complementary/bench player for the Mariners for years. Utley, 38, was a league-average player as a starter for the Dodgers last year, and, given that he won’t be expected to start this year (the Dodgers having already acquired Logan Forsythe), that’s a great piece to have on the bench.
Although they are not division rivals, you can expect the Cubs and Dodgers to “feel” like a rivalry this year, with each team looking to be the class of the league once again. And much like the Cubs, the Dodgers know this is a highly-competitive year for them, and they’re clearly working hard to ensure every possible risk is covered up.