Six months after signing a five-year, $85 million contract extension (h/t Sporting News) to stay in Los Angeles through the 2017 season, the Dodgers are shopping right fielder Andre Ethier, as reported by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter):
Source: Dodgers shopping Andre Ethier. If they deal him, they could be in the mix for Nick Swisher.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 18, 2012
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman says not so fast (via Twitter):
dodgers are not shopping ethier (tho they listen on anyone). to date, source said they have received no offers on AE— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 18, 2012
The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but we can be sure of two things in this convoluted mess of conflicting reports: Where there's smoke there's usually fire, and Andre Ethier would be a sought-after commodity.
Which teams might be seeking to add the 30-year-old slugger to the mix?
Let's take a look.
Keep in mind that this is ALL speculation. There have been no rumors from credible sources to indicate that a deal is in the works between the Dodgers and any of these clubs—or that these clubs have interest in Ethier.
Boston Red Sox
Boston has two of its three outfield spots spoken for, with Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Shane Victorino in right.
Jonny Gomes, Ryan Sweeney, Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava all figure to compete for playing time in left, but Ethier would be a major upgrade over any of the four.
Actually, adding Ethier would allow the Red Sox to slide Victorino to left, giving them an excellent complement of solid veteran outfielders while having plenty of depth should one of them fall to injury.
With the Mike Napoli signing seeming to have hit a snag (h/t Boston Herald), Ethier's bat would more than replace the production that Boston expects from Napoli in 2013 and beyond—though he would not be able to fill the gap at first base.
Prospects like Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. would be off-limits if I were Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, but there is definitely a deal to be made without those two involved.
Should Cleveland's pursuit of free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher fail to result in a deal between the two, Ethier would not be a bad Plan B.
As I wrote shortly after Ethier signed his extension with the Dodgers, the two players offer virtually the same production. From 2009 through 2011, you would be hard-pressed to differentiate the two:
Player A: 503 G, .267/.368/.486, 81 HR, 256 RBI
Player B: 434 G, .284/.364/.477, 65 HR, 250 RBI
Ethier is Player B.
Ideally, the power-hitting corner outfielder that the Tribe lands would be either a switch-hitter or a right-handed bat to add to its predominantly left-handed lineup, but at this point, beggars can't be choosers.
Ethier makes a lot of sense for the Tribe, who could look to use one of its starters, either Ubaldo Jimenez or Justin Masterson, to facilitate a deal.
New York Mets
As presently constituted, the New York Mets' outfield is comprised of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter.
To say that the team could use a consistent, veteran bat with power in one of its corner outfield spots would be a gross understatement.
Ethier would certainly provide far more protection in the Mets' lineup for David Wright than Ike Davis does, and his ability to drive the ball out of the yard would take some of the pressure to be the big run producer off of Davis' shoulders.
Perhaps a package involving recently acquired pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard could get talks between the two teams going.
Seattle struck out in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes and finds itself sitting a week before Christmas with Jason Bay as the only power bat that the team has added to the mix.
Ethier would immediately become Seattle's best player, adding power and run production to a lineup that badly needs both.
Seattle scored only 619 runs in 2012, 27th in all of baseball and dead last in the American League, 48 runs behind the Cleveland Indians.
The Mariners have a boatload of pitching prospects working their way through its system, so parting with one of them to add an impact bat like Ethier's wouldn't be as painful in Seattle as it would be elsewhere.
Texas needs to figure out a way to replace the production it lost when Josh Hamilton took his talents to Anaheim, and while no one player alone can fill those shoes, Ethier would be a great place to start.
While the Rangers already have Nelson Cruz to play right field, Ethier's left-handed bat would be a welcome addition to a lineup that is devoid of power from the left side of the plate.
Third base prospect Mike Olt would certainly be attractive to the Dodgers, though he alone would not be enough to facilitate a deal.
Rick Weiner is a Featured Columnist covering all of MLB and a member of B/R's Breaking News Team.