The Los Angeles Dodgers organization has been through a lot over the last year—starting with the much publicized divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Then on April 20, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced he was taking away control of the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt.
On April 25, former Texas Rangers president J. Thomas Schieffer was hired by Commissioner Selig to run the Dodgers.
The MLB takeover, the divorce and the financial woes associated with these events have almost paralyzed the Dodgers when it comes to player personnel. It has made it difficult at best to sign free agents and to re-sign current players to large contracts.
So one has to wonder where all this leaves the Dodgers on the subject of re-signing star outfielder Andre Ethier.
Ethier is set to make $9.25 million this season, the final season of a two-year contract totaling $15.25 million. Ethier would be eligible for salary arbitration next winter—which makes him a free agent by the end of the 2012 season.
During spring training, Ethier floated the possibility that this could be his final season with the Dodgers. Ethier hinted that he could be traded or that perhaps the Dodgers might decide not to offer him a new contract—much like they did with former catcher Russell Martin, who is now with the Yankees.
So what options do the cash-strapped Dodgers have in regards to Either?
The Dodgers could conceivably trade Ethier, but one problem with that is whoever they trade him for has to fit in with the current player salary budget. That would most likely mean trading Ethier for some minor or major league prospects—not for an established MLB star.
But which prospects would fit the bill? Who could the Dodgers trade Ethier for?
Let's take a look at some possibilities.
Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves has a good arm and above-average range and is a good defensive outfielder —and I think he would fit right in with the Dodgers.
Heyward has power at the plate, a good on-base percentage and is currently batting .247 with six homeruns and 12 RBI's.
Of course the Braves know they have something special in Jason Heyward. Many in the Atlanta Braves organization believe they need to give Heyward a large contract extension to lock him up.
Would the Dodgers be able to afford a contract extension that Heyward would be happy with, considering their current financial situation?
Well, Heyward is younger than Ethier and the Dodgers would have time to find a new owner—and get the organization in order before they had to give him a big contract.
Maybe to sweeten the deal the Dodgers would have to throw in James Loney. The Braves could use him at first base to help back up Freddie Freeman, and in return the Dodgers could get Tommy Hanson from the Braves.
Hanson is a good right-handed pitcher—and we all know the Dodgers need pitching. Hanson has a good slider, a big curve, a 94-96 MPH fastball and usually has good location on his pitches. He currently has a 2-3 record and a 3.21 ERA for the Braves.
Because the Dodgers cannot afford to trade Ethier for another big name player, a trade for Heyward is very unlikely, but it wouldn't be bad for the team.
But most likely the Dodgers would have to trade Ethier for upcoming prospects that haven't had the chance to prove they can play at the major league level like Heyward has.
Back in September of 2010, there were reports that Andre Ethier would welcome a trade to the Boston Red Sox.
While Ethier quickly downplayed those reports, perhaps the Dodgers and Red Sox could come up with a trade that would benefit both teams.
The Red Sox could get an established major league star, and the Dodgers could lower their payroll during these times of uncertainty—and still give them some quality players.
One of the most promising minor league prospects the Red Sox have is Josh Reddick.
Reddick has a quick bat and he is showing very good power with the Class AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.
So far this season at Pawtucket, Reddick has five home runs 12 RBI and is batting .274 in 18 games. Last season with Pawtucket he hit .266 and had 18 home runs and 65 RBI's in 114 games.
While his batting average hasn't been what the Red Sox would like to see, Reddick is considered a top minor league prospect.
Another Red Sox prospect the Dodgers might be able to use is right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo.
In his first season with the Red Sox Class A affiliate Greenville Drive, Ranaudo is 1-1 with a 0.46 ERA and has pitched 19.2 innings in four games.
If the Dodgers could get the Red Sox to throw in Brandon Workman—who is considered a future workhorse starter—the Dodgers would get two prospective pitchers and an outfielder with power.
Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays
If the Dodgers want to go for pitching prospects, the Tampa Bay Rays have three possible choices.
Chris Archer is a promising right-handed pitcher. So far in four games for the Rays' Montgomery farm team this season he is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA.
However, last season while pitching for the Cubs' Tennessee affiliate, Archer went 8-2 with a 1.80 ERA in 13 games.
Jeremy Hellickson has moved up to the big team this season. However he has struggled somewhat with a 1-2 record and a 4.32 ERA in four games with the Rays. However, last season with the Rays' AAA Durham affiliate he was 12-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 21 games.
Considering the Dodgers' current need for pitchers, Chris Archer and Jeremy Hellickson would probably be good additions to the team.
The Dodgers could also ask for young prospect Jake McGee, who is being touted as a possible major league-level closing pitcher.
In 2009, Tommy John surgery derailed McGee's progress. But he seems to have come back from that to be a legitimate major league prospect.
Considering Jonathan Broxton's current problems, this move might be something that could help the Dodgers down the road.
Kyle Gibson of the Minnesota Twins is another young pitcher the Dodgers might want to look at.
Gibson is considered one of the Twins' top minor league prospects.
Gibson is a right-hander who has a lot of movement on his pitches. And he has a tendency to keep everything down—which would serve him well against most hitters at the major league level.
Of course, there is no way the Dodgers would trade Andre Ethier for one minor league pitching prospect.
The Twins would have to cough up at least two other minor league prospects or a current player on their major league roster.
One player that comes to mind is outfielder Denard Span. While definitely not in the same category as Andre Ethier, Span is currently batting .318 for the Twins and has a lifetime batting average of .290. He would not be a powerhouse hitter for the Dodgers, but he looks to be a consistent hitter over the long MLB season.
To complete the deal, the Twins could toss in another minor league prospect like Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks or Miguel Sano.
One drawback of this deal is that by trading for a pitcher like Kyle Gibson, the Dodgers would of course lose a big bat in their lineup. And outfielder Denard Span is not as talented a player as Ethier—but the Dodgers would be better off completing this deal as opposed to losing Ethier to free agency.
And if they were able to get a couple more minor league prospects in the deal they may find a hidden gem that could help them down the road.
Brett Jackson is perhaps the Chicago Cubs' No. 1 prospect. Jackson is a speedy 22 year-old center fielder who is currently batting .328 and has three home runs and 11 RBI's for the Cubs' minor league affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies.
Cubs infield prospect Josh Vitters could also be included in the trade for Andre Ethier.
Vitters is a talented third baseman who is also playing for the Smokies. Vitters is currently batting .258 and has three home runs and 14 RBI's in 18 games for the Smokies.
The Dodgers could also try and get Trey McNutt from the Cubs in this deal—they are giving up an established MLB star in Ethier, after all.
Trey McNutt is a young right-handed pitcher who has shown some promise for the Cubs. With the Tennessee Smokies so far this season, McNutt is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA.
If these players produce, the Dodgers would definitely have time to get the ownership situation cleared up before they have to worry about large contracts for them.
I actually like this trade scenario the best, as all three players seem to be good MLB prospects.
Trading Andre Ethier away from the Dodgers for minor league prospects is something I definitely don't want to see happen.
Both Ethier and Matt Kemp have stated they want to stay in Los Angeles—if the Dodgers remain competitive.
However, if the current owner situation forces the Dodgers to have a fire sale, then perhaps trading for young prospects is the way to go. After all, minor league prospects are better than losing Andre Ethier to free agency and not getting anything in return.
The trades might hurt the team in the short-run, but help them down the road if these prospects pan out.
So what do you think? If the Dodgers have to have a fire-sale because of current ownership problems, what should they do?
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Note: All pitching and hitting statistics were obtained from www.baseball-reference.com.