According to ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney via Twitter, the Los Angeles Dodgers are interested in hearing offers for outfielder Andre Ethier.
Don’t believe me? Here is the tweet itself.
Sources: Dodgers are open to the idea of dealing Andre Ethier. He signed a five-year, $85 million contract during the season.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 30, 2012
Andre Ethier has been a staple in the Dodgers outfield since Los Angeles shipped Milton Bradley to Oakland in 2005. In his time in Dodger blue, Ethier has hit 129 home runs with a .476 slugging percentage while posting a .290 batting average.
So why would the Dodgers even consider dishing an obvious fan favorite this early after giving him an extensive contract in June?
Here is why.
The Dodgers want to check out the market and gauge what other teams would give up for him.
This is not uncommon. Whether it makes headlines or not, almost every single Major League player hits the waiver wire or trade discussions at some point in their career. It does not necessarily mean that a team wants to give up the player, it just helps front offices to see what they could possibly get in return.
In this case, GM Ned Colletti and President Stan Kasten, along with the rest of the staff, understand that Andre Ethier is currently somewhat overpaid. If the Boys in Blue are able to dump the five-year $85 million contract off to another team, they would become much more likely to spend big on offseason free agents such as Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton or according to MLB Trade Rumors, even possibly Shane Victorino.
In spite of all of this, in my opinion, the odds that the Dodgers actually get rid of Ethier this season remain very slim.
Los Angeles has spent a lot of money over the past year to win now. If the Dodgers decide to trade Ethier, the chances of getting someone who can replace his production this season are very small.
Take a look at recently traded outfielder Chris Young. The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Young in 2008 to a five-year contract in 2009 worth $28 million with a 2014 club option in the hopes that he would be a key part of the Diamondbacks success in the near future. In turn, the D-Backs received extremely inconsistent game play, thus leading to a trade with Oakland in which they received little to nothing for him.
Although Ethier might be more reliable than Chris Young, at Young's peak he was significantly better than Ethier. In 2010 and 2011 Chris Young recorded a WAR of 5.2 and 4.6, respectively, while the highest Andre Ethier recorded was 3.5 during this past season. Considering Ethier’s contract, I don’t see the Dodgers getting much more than the little that the Diamondbacks received for Young.
Ethier is also an integral part of the Dodgers' chances of winning a World Series this year for a number of reasons.
As a part of the big four in manager Don Mattingly’s lineup, that consists of two lefties and two righties, Los Angeles consistently has the ability to alternate sides at the plate and maintain leverage over platoon splits. When a team brings in a lefty pitcher to face the left-handed Adrian Gonzalez, they will most likely leave him in to pitch to the right-handed Hanley Ramirez before getting to the left-handed Andre Ethier, thus creating a favorable matchup in the heart of the order.
The Phoenix, Arizona native has been one of the most consistent hitters the Dodgers have had over the past decade. His batting average has dipped below .284 just once in his seven-year career—hit .272 in 2009—and he has hit 20 home runs or higher in four out of the last five years, including 31 home runs and 106 RBI in 2009.
As Yasiel Puig still brews in the minor leagues and Carl Crawford's health remains in question, the Dodgers right field situation would look grim without Ethier.
And finally, he is clearly one of the fans' most beloved players.
If the Dodgers hope to win this year, they will surely hold on to Andre Ethier for the time being, but putting him on the trading block and checking out options for the future may not be the worst decision either.
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