Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Reasons Andre Ethier Is Not Worth a Long-Term Deal

Shaun TobackCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2011

Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Reasons Andre Ethier Is Not Worth a Long-Term Deal

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    To say that the Los Angeles Dodgers are in bad shape going forward is an understatement. It’s like saying that Alex Rodriguez is overpaid or that Ryan Howard’s achilles is tender. It’s correct, but it doesn’t encompass the true gravity of the situation.

    Yep, the Dodgers are pretty much screwed financially. They’ve handed out too many bad contracts to too many barely-above-replacement-level players, and now, given the team’s well-documented ownership/financial woes, the boys in Chavez Ravine face a long, uphill battle towards financial solvency and baseball relevance.

    As a result, the Dodgers are on the precipice of having make some very difficult baseball decisions. While Mannywood is still home to plenty of young talent, the gold and platinum financial handcuffs placed on the team by Frank McCourt will not allow all of this talent to be retained.

    Although things haven’t devolved into a true firesale situation just yet, some players must go, and unfortunately for Dodgers fans, Andre Ethier will likely be the odd man out.

    Here are five reasons why retaining Andre Ethier with a long-term deal is not in the best interest of the Los Angeles Dodgers going forward.

1. Inconsistency

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    Sure, in 2011, Ethier distracted many baseball fans with his borderline-historic hitting streak, but the question the Dodgers must ask is this: Who is Andre Ethier really?

    Early in his career, Ethier seemed to be a high average/moderate power kind of guy. The kind of guy who would give you .310 with 15 home runs every season.

    Then, his power numbers spiked, and it seemed that he would be more of a .280/25 kind of guy.

    Now, Ethier has settled somewhere in the middle. The elite power he displayed is gone, and his average has been consistently below .300.

    So, who is Andre Ethier? Is he the 30 home run guy? Is he the .310 guy? Is he both? Is he neither?

    The fact that, six years into his MLB career, that these questions remain unanswered is certainly a red flag for a team that doesn't exactly have money to burn. Really, this uncertainty sums up who Ethier is: A decent power, decent average guy. He’s not elite in either area, but he won’t kill you either. And while he’s certainly good enough to warrant a pay raise, he is nowhere near good enough to be locked up long-term by the Dodgers.

2. Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp

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    Matt Kemp was a few hits away from a triple crown. Clayton Kershaw is one of the best starters in all of baseball. Andre Ethier is a nice player with declining power. You tell me who the odd man out should be.

    Eventually, Kershaw, Kemp and Ethier will all command big paydays. Currently, the Dodgers are struggling to even make payroll, let alone sign big names to big contracts. While there is little doubt that they will make whatever adjustments they need to in order to hang onto their elite talent, Ethier’s talent simply isn’t quite elite. Kershaw and Kemp are.

    With money tight in Los Angeles, other players will simply take priority over Ethier when extension time comes—and with good reason.

3. A Good Trade Market

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    Boston has long been a rumored destination for Ethier should the Dodgers choose to move him. If L.A. wants to get maximum value for Ethier, they will strike while the iron is hot and demand is high. And in Boston, demand for a new direction has never been higher.

    Following Boston’s epic 2011 collapse, the Sox will likely be looking to shake up their roster and infuse some new talent, if for no other reason than to distract their fanbase from the horrific realities of last season.

    Ethier is a perfect candidate for Boston. They can pay him. They can give up prospects to get him. He is a good clubhouse guy, a balanced hitter and has plenty of productive years ahead of him, unlike the Jason Variteks and David Ortizs of the world.

    Even in Boston isn’t desperate enough to pony up a boatload of top prospects for Ethier, someone will be. Part of being successful on the MLB trade market is knowing when to hold your assets and when to take advantage of market demands. Right now, the market is primed for an Ethier trade.

4. Ethier Is Open to a Trade

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    Ethier has stated that he would be open to playing elsewhere. He has been followed by rumors of trades to Boston and limited time in the Dodger blue. Of all of L.A.’s young stars, he has been the most receptive to the thought of a trade.

    To summarize: Not only is Ethier more willing to take his talents elsewhere, but he is also the most expendable high-value asset the Dodgers have. Seems like a no-brainer.

5. The Farm System

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    The Dodgers need to rebuild. And given their money problems, it would be most advantageous to do so with cheap, young talent.

    Whether it is through compensatory picks or prospects acquired via trade, Ethier could indirectly help the Dodgers rebuild their franchise from the ground up.

    Sure, L.A.’s roster looks bad right now, what with Juan Uribe, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley all getting drastically overpaid. But in Kemp, Kershaw and even youngsters like Dee Gordon, the future doesn’t look nearly as bleak as it could, given all that has gone wrong for the Dodgers. Adding a few more high-ceiling prospects to this foundation could help shorten the rebuilding process and return the Dodgers to relevancy sooner rather than later.