MLB Trade Speculation: 7 Potential Suitors for Dodgers' Andre Ethier
As the Los Angeles Dodgers look towards baseball's trade deadline on July 31st, their role has changed and they are now potential sellers. In a season bogged down in frustration and disappointment, the future of the Dodgers’ top players is very uncertain.
For all-stars Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, the difficult realization that the team will probably not be able to keep all three of them is a sad thought. Slugging outfielder Andre Ethier appears to be the odd man out, and the player most likely to be dealt.
Ethier is batting .311 this season, with nine home runs and 44 RBIs. His .383 on-base-percentage and .463 slugging are about normal for the two-time all-star.
His powerful left-handed bat and above-average defensive ability would be a great asset to many competing ball clubs, but here are seven potential locations that Andre The Giant could end up come August.
Potential Suitor #1: The Cincinnati Reds
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The home run hitting Reds? How would Andre fit in here? Well, the Cincinnati Reds open up the second half of the season with a mediocre 45-47 record, but only four games out of first place in the hotly contested NL Central Division. The Reds have been up to the usual tricks, powering the ball all over the field thanks to the likes of all-stars Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.
However, Andre Ethier would be a big addition to a lineup that has been hindered by the struggles of left fielder Jonny Gomes. Gomes, pictured here, is only batting .218 this season, and that's after picking up his game in the month of June. Gomes is a career .248 hitter, so there is not a whole lot of confidence coming out of Cincinnati. With center fielder Drew Stubbs batting only .250 as well, having Ethier to bolster the lineup could provide the push the Reds need to return to the playoffs under manager Dusty Baker.
Why the Reds? Well, the Reds have an abundance of young prospects that are potentially excellent trade pieces. Highly touted prospects such as catcher Devin Mesoraco (a top 20 Baseball America prospect) and pitcher Travis Wood, a major league ready arm at only 24 years old. As another option, the Reds have Yonder Alonso, a slugging first baseman who could replace James Loney and give the Dodgers a youthful power surge that Loney never could.
To land Ethier, the Reds would have to part with any of them, unless they would also like to add other serviceable Dodgers such as Hiroki Kuroda or Rafael Furcal in a package deal and then the Dodgers could get all those pieces and potentially more in order to build for the future.
The Reds seem like the smartest location for both Ethier, who could take advantage of the smaller ballpark to boost those power numbers (his home runs are down this year, currently at just 11) and for the Reds, who could add another threat in the middle of their lineup with no damage to their current core of young talent.
Potential Suitor #2: The Philadelphia Phillies
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Oh, the hated Phillies, how can the Dodgers ever do business with you? After crushing Dodger dreams of the World Series two seasons in a row and effectively ending the run the Dodgers put together in the later part of the decade, the Phillies are still loaded with talent and in first place in the NL East. However, the Phillies have shown signs of faltering this season and their outfield has greatly disappointed.
With Shane Victorino on the Disabled List, no one currently in the Phillies outfield has a batting average over .252. Left fielder Raul Ibanez, center field fill-in John Mayberry and utility outfielder Ben Francisco have all failed to hit for both power or average.
The Phillies could part ways with Brown, pictured here, who has failed to prove himself in his second season with the big league squad. Going after the proven Ethier, the Phillies could bring even more experience to their very successful core of players. A straight-up Brown for Ethier trade would benefit both teams, with Ethier able to power the Phillies to another pennant and the Dodgers having an even younger, potentially more talented outfielder for the future.
The Dodgers could also look at the possibility of getting Phillies minor league slugger Cody Overbeck to fill their constant problem of production from third base. Overbeck, 25 years old and at Triple-A, already has 20 home runs and a batting average over .300.
No matter who the Dodgers would get back, it would still be tough to trade one of your star players to a new rival team that has left lasting wounds.
Potential Suitor #3: The Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have the best record in the American League, leading the Yankees by one game and everyone else by a comfortable margin. Why do they need Andre? Their lack of consistent production from the outfield has left a small hitch in the impenetrable force that is the Red Sox lineup.
With speedster Carl Crawford currently out of the lineup with a hamstring injury, young Josh Reddick has played well in limited action while his counterpart Darnell McDonald has struggled in replacing the talented Crawford. Pair this with the fact right fielder J.D. Drew is only batting .229 with 4 home runs on the season, and now the strong Red Sox lineup does not look so forceful. Drew, pictured here, has started to draw criticisms from Red Sox Nation, as his body ages and his defensive ability has also appeared to decline slightly.
Ethier would be able to give the Red Sox an experienced bat with the athleticism to fill in at both corner outfield positions. Ethier’s left handed power stroke would be perfect for the short porch in the right field corner and Andre could take some pressure off of Jacoby Ellsbury, who is turning into a superstar in center field.
The Red Sox have some talented prospects and one that stands out is Los Angeles local Ryan Lavarnway, a 23 year old catcher for the Triple-A affiliate. Lavarnway is batting .343 for the Triple-A club so far this season and is primed to debut this season. However, with Jerrod Saltalamacchia holding down the position at Fenway, the Red Sox could use Ryan to get Andre.
Considering Andre replaced J.D. Drew as the right fielder in Los Angeles a mere five years ago, it would be a cruel twist of fate for Drew if Andre came in a took his current job.
Potenital Suitor #4: The Detroit Tigers
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Like the Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers find themselves in first place to begin the second half of the season. The Tigers, at 49-43, have even overcome the upstart Cleveland Indians to lead the AL Central. However, the Tigers could use an upgrade in the outfield and Andre Ethier could be their solution.
Ethier’s .311 batting average would be a huge upgrade for the Tigers, who have been forced to play the declining Magglio Ordonez (pictured here) in right field and at DH all season. Center fielder Austin Jackson has been decent in his second year, being a threat even while only batting .245, and slugging outfielder Brennan Boesch is putting fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers while batting .306 with 12 home runs.
However, there always seems to be a weak spot on the field due to Ordonez’s decline and the lack of production from other sources. Ordonez currently is the owner of a .217 batting average with only three home runs, while other outfielders such as Ryan Raburn (batting .213) and Casper Wells (batting .259) have not fared much better.
Ethier could be a big pickup for the Tigers, who could use him to get over the hump and defeat not only the Indians within the division, but potentially to knock off one of the two powerhouses in the East in a playoff series.
The Tigers have some prospects that could whet the Dodgers appetite, such as slugging third baseman Nick Castellanos or pitcher Chance Ruffin. The Tigers will definitely need to pick up a slugger somewhere along the line though if they want to make a serious run at the Fall Classic this season.
Potential Suitor #5: The Chicago White Sox
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The Chicago White Sox, standing behind the Tigers and Indians in the AL Central at five games out and 44-48, are once again in the hunt as the second half of the season opens play. The White Sox are still competitive even though some of their biggest sluggers have been seemingly nonexistent this season.
Adam Dunn is hitting a paltry .160 with only nine home runs, center fielder Alex Rios (pictured here) is receiving a lot of criticism for his poor play (that includes a .212 average with only six home runs) and even other outfielders Juan Pierre and Carlos Quentin have had slumps this year. Slugging first baseman Paul Konerko, who campaigned with Andre Ethier for the MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, is the only true threat in the lineup currently and could definitely use some help.
Ethier could play either left field, right field or sub in as DH on occasional days. Since Rios, the center fielder, is struggling so mightily, Ethier could even be used in center even though he has never played it just because of his athleticism.
The White Sox have some very good young prospects, such as outfielder Trayce Thompson and first baseman Dayan Vicideo, that could be packaged in order to get Andre in a White Sox uniform for the late season surge to the playoffs.
Even if Andre does not end up in Chicago this summer, expect White Sox GM Kenny Williams to be active and free-wheeling before July 31st.
Potential Suitor #6: The Texas Rangers
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The Texas Rangers are in the market for available pitchers and have a very solid lineup, filled with sluggers. However, a package deal for Andre Ethier and a Dodger relief pitcher could help bolster the Rangers similarly to how the Rangers made big moves last summer that propelled them to a World Series appearance.
With left fielder David Murphy (pictured here), batting only .248 with four home runs this season, and no outfielders stepping up to replace him in the starting lineup, Ethier could be a viable option to bring another big bat to the table. The Rangers also need pitching, which they could find in the Dodgers bullpen through the likes of Blake Hawksworth or even Matt Guerrier.
If the Rangers wanted a starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda could provide a veteran, established arm to bolster their young rotation. No matter what, the Rangers have plenty of valuable prospects that the Dodgers could use and package up to get the most for their talent. David Perez is a young and very talented pitcher that is racking up strikeouts in the minors. Outfielder Engel Beltre and left-handed pitcher Robbie Erlin are two studs playing at Double-A currently and could be potential trade pieces.
The Rangers currently stand in first place, fighting off the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the second half opens up. For the Rangers to solidify their lead, they need to add another piece to their roster and Andre Ethier could be part of the answer.
Potential Suitor #7: The Arizona Diamondbacks
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Andre Ethier’s division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks are the surprise of the National League, putting together a fine season under manager Kirk Gibson. Their young crop of players have developed nicely and after a couple tough years of growing pains, the Diamondbacks find themselves at 49-43 and only a couple games back of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks have both Chris Young and all-star Justin Upton patrolling center and right fields, respectively for their squad. However, left field has been a source of struggle this season as neither starter Gerardo Parra nor Xavier Nady have been able to produce consistently. Parra’s .286 batting average is deceiving because his play has not reflected that number so far this season.
Parra, pictured here, is an outfielder that many teams would be glad to have, but not necessarily as a starter for a playoff team. Willy Mo Pena has been a breath of fresh air, playing some outfield and some first base, but has not proven that he can be a reliable source of production over his career.
Andre Ethier could provide a major spark for the D’Backs and could propel them past the Giants in the NL West race. There is a reason Ethier’s nickname is Andre The Giant-Killer, as he bats .359 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Diamondbacks are loaded with young talent and could give the Dodgers one of their highly touted third base prospects such as Matt Davidson or Bobby Borchering.
The move would put Andre in his hometown of Phoenix as well, boosting local morale and I am sure selling a couple more tickets a game.