The Los Angeles Dodgers have high aspirations this year. For many fans, it’s World Series or bust. That being said, it wouldn't be totally shocking if they struggled out of the gate, given that their team is full of overpriced salary dumps.
Their roster construction makes it difficult for them to jettison any mismatched pieces, though, should they not live up to expectations. They were only able to attain talent by taking on bad contracts, so getting rid of any major pieces—Carl Crawford’s $20 million per year through 2017, Adrian Gonzalez’s $21 million per year through 2018—would be extremely difficult.
That being said, there are still a few guys they could deal.
Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto are both recently-acquired utility men who might be interesting, but are unlikely to draw as much interest as another player actually on this list. Bullpen arms are always a possibility to get dealt, so Matt Guerrier and J.P. Howell wouldn't be shockers. However, it’s improbable that the Dodgers would get anything from trading away spare parts, so these players are unlikely to go anywhere.
Dee Gordon is an interesting case already in his young career. He was a decently-hyped prospect as a shortstop, but he struggled immensely last year in his first full season in the big leagues, posting a .280 OBP and a terrible UZR (fangraphs.com’s defensive metric). However, assuming he doesn't totally tank his value in the first half of the 2013 season, he’s one of the only young, affordable players the Dodgers could offer teams in an attempt to take on another overpriced veteran.
After they traded Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa, Jerry Sands and Nathan Eovaldi last year, the Dodgers’ farm system doesn't have much talent left. Gordon, who some teams (the Mariners, in particular) have expressed interest in, is one of just a few chips the Dodgers can offer.
Jerry Hairston Jr. is a super-utility player who has played all seven positions (besides catcher) at some point in his career. He was solid last year for the Dodgers, who used his versatility to fill in at second base and third base. He posted a .342 OBP, and while he didn't add much power (only four home runs), he was certainly a useful player.
His ability to play multiple positions and provide a passable bat would make him attractive to other teams, and if the Dodgers struggle, there’d be no reason for them to hang onto him. While it’s unlikely general manager Ned Colletti would be able to get a lot for Hairston, a low-level prospect certainly isn't out of the question and if the Dodgers are out of the playoff hunt, that just might be good enough to pry Hairston away.
Andre Ethier is the most likely big-name Dodger to be traded. He has been hounded by trade rumors all offseason, and his contract is the cheapest in the Dodgers’ expensive outfield. If he struggles, the team struggles or even if the Dodgers play well and just get overwhelmed by a trade offer, Ethier could be on the move. He will be 31 this season and is signed for five more years, but he has never been able to hit lefties—he has just a career .238 AVG against them—and fangraphs.com’s defensive metrics have never considered him an above-average defender.
If the Dodgers do not play well, Ethier will not necessarily be the culprit, but he will likely be one of the scapegoats. He has trade value, and although Colletti has said he won’t trade his starting right fielder, Ethier might be one of the most movable assets for a team and fan base that would panic if the Dodgers struggle.
Ted Lilly is one of the Dodgers’ triumvirate of aging veteran fifth starters (the other two are Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano) and is the most likely to be traded. Assuming health, the Dodgers’ starting rotation is Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, and Ryu Hyun-jin. Of course, Billingsley and Ryu come with question marks—Ryu’s lack of a major league track record and Billingsley’s health—so other starters might be needed.
But Capuano and Harang were serviceable last year, with each posting an ERA under 3.80, and Lilly, as the most accomplished pitcher of the bunch, would have the most trade value. So if he can prove that he’s healthy, the Dodgers would likely field offers for him.