Jake Peter acquisition could mark end of Chase Utley’s career

Does the acquisition of Jake Peter mean the end of speculation that the Dodgers will re-sign Chase Utley to another one-year deal? Peter is a left-handed line-drive hitter that ranked relatively high in the prospect-rich White Sox farm system. He now is getting what appears to be a golden opportunity – not only to make an impact in the majors, but to do so with the defending NL Champions to boot.

Peter was ranked number 10 in the ChiSox system by Baseball America this past season, which included a 28-game run in which he reached base while hitting .414 over that stretch. He is known to be a defensively skilled player that can handle all infield positions. Add to this that his offense has been on the rise since adding a leg kick to his batting approach (sound familiar?). As difficult as it is to speculate what is in the mind of Farhan Zaidi and Andrew Friedman, it isn’t a far reach to believe that the addition of Peter to the 40-man roster will probably signal the end of Chase Utley’s Dodger tenure.

Twenty-four-year-old Jake Peter has been given the opportunity of a lifetime. What he does with it is entirely up to him. (Photo credit – Laura Wolff)

We can talk about all the good karma that Utley brought to the team: his leadership skills and unselfish play; his willingness to sacrifice his body on any inside pitch, just to get on base; his occasional clutch hit or solid defensive gem. These things aren’t forgotten, and they shouldn’t be. Chase was an awesome Dodger in his final years as a player, but there are also some negative stats that jump out at you that can’t be ignored; things and that didn’t happen for the Pasadena, California native during the 2008 World Series championship season while with the Phillies – the most glaring of which is going 0-for-30 in 15 consecutive postseason games with the Dodgers dating back to the 2016 NLCS.

These facts can’t be ignored. When Utley was needed most, he did not deliver. Charlie Culberson did. So did Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez. But the bat of the man affectionately known as ‘The Silver Fox’ disappeared when it was needed the most.

Although it may have seemed as though Utley was always getting hit by pitches, he was actually hit only once during the NLCS and once during the World Series. And while some may view this as helping his team, his 0-for-15 at the plate during the 2017 postseason most certainly did not.
(Photo credit – Jordan Hall)

I hate to say it, but even though Utley brought some valuable intangibles to the club, it’s time to cut bait and him let go. We all could agree that vets like Curtis Granderson and Chase Utley are great guys and have had respectable careers, but their time has come and gone.

Chase was a calming influence in the Dodgers clubhouse and a favorite amongst his teammates. That makes losing him all the more difficult. But wow, his bat could really have been used this post season.

When it comes to making the World Series runners-up better, there is little doubt that some weaknesses need to be addressed. Utley happened to be one of those holes that can be replaced by a younger, less expensive influence.

That doesn’t mean that Peter is a lock to make the club. Actually, it would be a surprise if he did make the 25-man cut on March 30th. However, the writing is on the wall. Charlie Culberson is gone, Utley is close to gone. A move hasn’t been made to move Chris Taylor back to the infield. Jake Peter looks to be that left-handed bat that could be a vital utility infield asset. It’s an amazing opportunity for the 25-year-old youngster that has yet to see a major league plate appearance.

For those reasons it will be interesting to keep your eyes on the newest Dodger infield prospect this spring. An opportunity has been handed to him. Now it’s up to Jake Peter to take advantage of that opportunity.

 

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10 Responses to “Jake Peter acquisition could mark end of Chase Utley’s career”

  1. Ron Cervenka says:

    Great piece, Evan! – and your timing is impeccable. I was just beginning to research young Jake Peter for a possible article. Gotta admit, however, that I had completely overlooked him as an Utley replacement, which he most certainly would (could) be … along with a potential replacement for (uggh) Charlie Culberson.

    But hey … we got Matt Kemp back, right?

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  2. Evan Bladh says:

    A few more tidbits about Jake Peter:

    *Many thought the White Sox drafted him to be a pitcher. While pitching at Creighton University, his fastball was clocked at 96 MPH… but it appears the move to the infield was a good one, as Peter has hit at all minor league levels.

    *Scouts rate his speed as below average, but he still managed to steal 23 bags in 26 attempts in 2015, and 11 steals this past year.

    *His baseball intellect is rated as very high, with the ability to play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots. And then there is that pitching background as well.

    *He was Kyle Farmer’s Arizona Fall League teammate in Glendale during the 2015 season, where he hit a respectable .306 in 15 games for the Desert Dogs.

    *Peter is noted for his footwork as a second baseman, turning 73 double plays last year and as many as 88 in a previous minor league season. He has plenty of arm to cover all the infield positions, but his flip to first while turning two as a second baseman is rocket fast.

    *as a hitter, Peter’s K rate needs to improve, but he works counts and gets on base via walk at a respectable rate. his lifetime on base % is .347

  3. Boxout7 says:

    Dodgers organization needed some higher-up left-handed hitting infielders. Peter probably just a depth piece, but we can always hope, he is the Utley replacement. In any event, Utley must go. However, would love to see Utley remain in the organization in some capacity.

    Peter probably starts 2018 in the minors. If Dodgers thought he was the left-handed hitting answer at 2nd in 2018, they could have got him under Rule 5. Look for Forsythe and Taylor to platoon at 2nd in 2018. Forsythe’s 2017 LH/RH hitting splits demand Taylor goes to second against right-handers with an extra left-handed hitting outfielder playing.

    Anybody seen any hitting LH/RH hitting splits for Peter?

  4. SoCalBum says:

    Just wondering, if Jake Peter is worthy of a spot on the Dodgers opening day roster why wasn’t he claimed in the Rule 5 draft? I like what I have read about the young man, other than his elbow hurts after making a long throw, but WOW there are several teams in need of a second baseman but none took a gamble on picking Peter in the Rule 5 and giving him a look during ST for a very cheap price. Utley? I don’t see him coming back with so many players able to handle 2b and the Dodgers committed to staying under the Competitive Balance Tax, but he wasn’t the only Dodgers who failed to hit in the WS.

  5. Evan Bladh says:

    Good point. I wonder the same thing. Could it be that no one wants to take the chance of commiting a slot on the 25 man Major League roster for the entire season to a player that has yet to make a big league appearance? Very few Rule 5 guys pan out. From what I’ve seen and read of Peter, he would have been worth that risk, but 30 teams passed on him, so it’s a mystery to me.

  6. baseball1439 says:

    Probably Utley’s days as a Dodger are over and there isn’t a player on the team I will miss more.Love watching him play.

    • SoCalBum says:

      Spot on! The type of mentor you would want for all of your young prospects to follow. The intangibles he brought to the Dodgers, on the field and in the clubhouse, were not measured by sabremetrics but directly effected the culture of how to play the game the right way — back to the Dodgers way of playing baseball.

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