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Dodgers rumors: Los Angeles prioritizing Chase Utley over Ben Zobrist

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The Los Angeles Dodgers prioritize retaining Chase Utley over signing Ben Zobrist.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

At least one team would prefer Chase Utley over Ben Zobrist. According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Los Angeles Dodgers "appear more focused" on re-signing Utley than targeting Zobrist from free agency.

The market for Utley, who has expressed a desire to play in southern California, seems to be a strong one. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports that the infielder has drawn strong interest from the Dodgers, Angels and Padres already in free agency.

One of Utley's main selling points -- at least according to Rosenthal -- it that he would be a "far less expensive" option. Though true, expense hasn't been much of a concern recently for the Dodgers. According to a report however, the Dodgers will be attempting to shed some salary this off-season and get under $300 million for the 2016 season.

The problem with retaining Utley isn't in saving money though, it's in actually playing him. Last season, Utley was very below average at the plate with a 71 wRC+ and below average defensively at second base costing his team 2.2 runs by UZR. That being said, Utley proved to be useful in his 25 innings at third base -- his only work there in his major league career -- with a 0.9 UZR.

On the market of utility players though, nobody really compares to Zobrist. However, even his defense could be slipping. Zobrist played four positions last year and was below replacement level in two of them -- second base and left field. Sticking with the 37-year old Utley might not be a bad call. Especially with other prospects at-the-ready.

Rosenthal is astute to point out that Enrique 'Kike' Hernandez and Jose Peraza remain options in the infield as well. Hernandez may project better as an outfielder, which is his natural position, though his performance at second base so far in his career has been good. Similarly, Hernandez's bat has been extremely useful at 123 wRC+ over his young career. Peraza is only going into his age-22 season and his bat may not project as well, though his speed could make him a potential major league weapon.