If the Los Angeles Dodgers begin to fade in the NL West, one of their prized possessions, right fielder Andre Ethier, may become available.
Most teams would jump at the chance to add the 28-year-old outfielder to bolster their lineup.
Naturally, the season is only four games old, so counting the Dodgers out already would be extremely premature. However, the Dodgers could get a nice return on Ethier later this season if things don’t work out in their division.
Ethier will be eligible for salary arbitration for the last time after this season. A big year will mean an increase in his salary—which is already over $9 million.
The Dodgers may not have the finances to retain Ethier, especially in the wake of the McCourt divorce.
Here are five teams that would love to add Ethier at some point this season.
The Milwaukee Brewers should have a potent offense if everyone is healthy.
With an improved pitching staff—once Zack Greinke returns from a bruised rib—the Brewers may make some noise in the NL Central.
Sluggers Ryan Braun and Corey Hart will man the corner outfield positions for Milwaukee.
Young speedster Carlos Gomez is the team’s everyday center fielder. While he can light up the basepaths, Gomez has struggled with the bat as a Brewer.
Though Andre Ethier has never played center field, he has the tools to cover ground out there.
Ethier would be an instant force in the heart of Milwaukee’s lineup. Opposing pitchers would have nightmares after facing Rickie Weeks, Ethier, Braun, Prince Fielder, Hart and Casey McGahee all in a row.
The Brewers may need that one last piece to make a postseason run, and Ethier could fit the bill.
Like the Brewers, the Chicago White Sox are poised to make a serious run for their division crown.
The pitching should be consistent all season, especially if the team gets a solid performance out of Jake Peavy.
The White Sox have some potent bats that could do damage, but if they want to compete with the Minnesota Twins, they may need to add one more big stick.
Juan Pierre is the White Sox left fielder and brings a ton of speed to the table.
However, Ethier would be more of a thumper in the lineup that currently features Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin.
Ethier would be a nice addition to the starting lineup, which would also allow Chicago to use Pierre’s speed off the bench late in games.
This combination could prove successful in a tight postseason race.
Atlanta Braves starting center fielder Nate McClouth is coming off a season in which he hit just .190 in 85 games.
The Braves gave McClouth a vote of confidence this offseason in hopes he would return to his Pittsburgh Pirates form.
However, when will the Braves’ patience run out with McClouth?
The Braves and Philadelphia Phillies should duke it out all season for the top spot in the NL East.
With Chipper Jones on the decline, the Braves could use one more consistent offensive threat to add to Dan Uggla, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward.
Andre Ethier could replace McClouth in center field as the Braves prepare for their stretch run.
Atlanta has a great pitching rotation—starters and bullpen—so it would be a shame to waste good performances due to lack of offense.
Ethier would help avoid that scenario.
Whenever a big name becomes available via trade or free agency, the New York Yankees are always involved.
Though the major concern this season for the Bronx Bombers appears to be their starting pitching rotation, they are always in line for another bat.
The Yankees like left fielder Brett Gardner’s speed at the top—or sometimes bottom—of their lineup.
However, if New York has the chance to acquire Andre Ethier, they may savor the opportunity.
If the Yankees did trade for Ethier, every starter in their lineup would have played in at least one All-Star Game—Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Ethier, Russell Martin and Jorge Posada.
Though trading for Ethier may seem a tad gluttonous, the Yankees will do everything in their power to overmatch the Boston Red Sox for the division crown.
The Boston Red Sox will likely be involved in a dogfight with the Yankees right up until the final games of the season.
On paper, the Red Sox look to be tops in the American League, but it will come down to their play on the field. They were swept by the Texas Rangers in their first series of the year.
Boston's current right fielder, J.D. Drew, will be a free agent after this season, so Boston may attempt to move their oft-injured outfielder.
If so, the team could pursue Andre Ethier to take over in right. Ethier’s game would translate well to Fenway Park due to his ability to pull the ball deep into the right field corner.
Boston would attempt to lock up Ethier long-term, giving them one of the most versatile outfields in the game—Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ethier.
The Red Sox and Yankees may go through a bidding war in order to keep Ethier away from the other team.
Ethier could be the missing link that pushes Boston past New York down the stretch.