Monday, June 20, 2011

The Dodgers need to trade Andre Ethier

Let's face it, the Dodgers are a bad team. Unless there is a trade that comes out of nowhere to acquire an impact bat without sacrificing key young players (unlikely) or some of the prospects go nuts (even more unlikely), the Dodgers need to be sellers by the July 31 trade deadline -- or hopefully much sooner.

The most attractive piece the Dodgers could make available is Andre Ethier. Ethier is hitting .313/.390/.452, with 6 HR, 34 RBI. It isn't logical for a team that ranks 13th out of 16 National League teams in on-base percentage to trade a guy with a .390 OBP, but it's what's best for the organization.

Ethier is a premiere hitter, despite not being able to hit left-handed pitches nearly as well as righties -- 18-for-75, /240/.289/.347 this season, .246/.309/.368 for his career.

Having said that, he'd still be the most attractive position player on the trade market -- which begs the question: what could the Dodgers get in return for the outfielder?

Ethier has let it be known back in Spring Training -- intentionally or unintentionally -- that he doesn't think he'll be a Dodger long-term.

"You don't know," Ethier said. "Six years now is a long (time) to be in one city for one team. There's no inclination now other than going out and playing this year and seeing what we got.

"You don't know if this is your last (year) or not, but you want to enjoy it to its fullest extent and make the most out of it."

In seemingly the next breath, he said this to the L.A. Times:
"Yeah, as long as the organization is moving in the right direction still, moving in a direction where they're committed to winning … rather than if things don't go good for a year or two here, (then) rebuild and try to figure things out.

"I just want to be somewhere that gives me the best shot to win. I feel like we got that here. But it's a wait-and-see basis."

One thing we know for certain: Ethier will never work in a MLB front office, as he still has one year of arbitration to go before hitting free agency. That, coupled with his production, is precisely why the Dodgers should trade him now -- to maximize the value they could get for him. A team dealing for Ethier would get him for at least 1 1/2 years.

So, what teams would be interested in his services and what could the Dodgers be looking for in return? Let's explore those questions.

Boston Red Sox
Ethier's apparent BFF, Dustin Pedroia, plays in Boston and it could use a guy to patrol right field in Fenway Park (J.D. Drew is a free agent following the season). While Drew's time in Boston has produced solid numbers (.268/.376/.468), he's played an average of 131 games per season (not counting 2011). In the same time, Ethier has played an average of 148 games with better overall numbers than Drew (.288/.363/.493). Ethier would add to an already potent Red Sox's lineup.

Who would the Dodgers be interested in?
Daniel Bard, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, Jed Lowrie, Josh Reddick

To Boston: Ethier
To Los Angeles: Lowrie, Kalish, Bard

- This would be a steep price for Boston to pay, especially with Scutaro in the final year of his deal and Lowrie performing well in his place. The Sox do have Jose Iglesias in the minors and despite his struggles at Triple-A, he is the Red Sox's future at shortstop. Lowrie surely isn't going to bump Pedroia or Kevin Youkilis from their positions, so they might be more willing to move him. Kalish would step in for Ethier in RF and Bard would be a nice setup option for a beleaguered Dodger bullpen. Not sure Boston would be on board with this deal, though.

Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have a three-man rotation in left field in Jonny Gomes, Fred Lewis and Chris Heisey. While Heisey has experienced moderate success in his 287 at-bats (.261/.331/.439), he probably isn't the long-term answer. Gomes and Lewis are platoon players at best. Ethier would look nice in the middle of the Reds' lineup, hitting in front of reigning NL MVP Joey Votto.

Who would the Dodgers be interested in?
Yonder Alonso, Juan Francisco, Yasmani Grandal, Ismael Guillon, Devin Mesoraco, Neftali Soto

To Cincinnati: Ethier
To Los Angeles: Alonso, Mesoraco, Guillon

- The Reds have played better of late, but they're behind both Milwaukee and St. Louis in the division (38-35, 2 GB). They could use a spark. Alonso is blocked by Votto and is the team's best trade chip. Mesoraco is really close to the majors and we all know of the Dodgers' lack of catching prospects. Guillon is a high-upside lefty who is just 19 years old. Ethier would slot right into the middle of the Reds' order and form as dangerous a 1-6 as there is in baseball (Stubbs, Phillips, Ethier, Votto, Rolen, Bruce). Cincinnati has another good catcing prospect in Grandal who is hitting well for Bakersfield. They could possibly afford to deal Mesoraco with Grandal being the team's 2010 first-round pick. If not, the Dodgers could get Grandal (as a player to be named later because of MLB rules) and another prospect to replace Mesoraco.

Cleveland Indians
The Indians have been the biggest surprise team in baseball this season. They have a 39-31 record, good enough (right now) for first place in the American League Central. They're doing all this with Grady Sizemore not giving the team much, Travis Hafner on the DL, Shin-Soo Choo greatly under-performing (.244/.332/.354) and Carlos Santana (oh how I miss thee) hitting .228/.354/.404. The Indians could use a boost to the offense, which is where Ethier would come in. A 3-4-5 of Ethier-Santana-Choo would be quite formidable in the AL Central (provided Choo and Santana get on track).

Who would the Dodgers be interested in?
Chun-Hsiu Chen, Lonnie Chisenhall, Nick Hagadone, Jason Kipnis, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson

To Cleveland: Ethier
To Los Angeles: Kipnis, Knapp, Chen, Hagadone

- The Indians probably wouldn't be too keen on dealing Chisenhall, as he's they're future at the hot corner. Kipnis is performing well at Triple-A and could slide right in as the Dodgers' second baseman for the ineffective Juan Uribe and potentially injured Casey Blake. Knapp is the best prospect the Indians got from the Cliff Lee deal -- a deal in which they spurned the Dodgers' proposal. Chen, a catcher, is performing well at Double-A and would immediately be the team's best catching prospect. Hagadone, whom the Indians got for Victor Martinez, is strictly a left-handed reliever, but he's having success in the role.

Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have yet to adequately replace Jayson Werth and Chase Utley is just coming back from injury. Raul Ibanez is a free agent after the season and the Phillies aren't ready to hand the job to Domonic Brown yet. Ethier would be a fine replacement for Werth and would supplant Placido Polanco as the team's No. 3 hitter.

Who would the Dodgers be interested in?
Brown, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Singleton, Sebastian Valle, Vance Worley

To Philadelphia: Ethier
To Los Angeles: Brown, Singleton, Valle

- Ethier would provide a boost to the Phillies, which is the best team in baseball, even without Utley for most of the year and guys like Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins struggling. Brown would come in and be the true right fielder the Dodgers need, while Singleton would be the team's future at first base. Valle is a solid prospect, but is only in High-A and doesn't have the best plate discipline (2 BB, 27 K this season in 31 games).

Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are playing better than most thought they would after losing key pieces to last year's division-winning club. The team has one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but is pretty pedestrian on the offensive side, despite having Matt Joyce, who is enjoying a breakout season. Ethier would slot in as the No. 3 hitter in front of Evan Longoria and would provide a boost to the Rays' struggling offense.

Who would the Dodgers be interested in?
Tim Beckham, Alex Cobb, Desmond Jennings, Jake McGee, Alexander Torres

To Tampa Bay: Ethier
To Los Angeles: Jennings, Cobb, Torres

- The Rays need a boost offensively. Ethier would bring a consistent hitter to the Rays' lineup and allow them to continue to contend. One stumbling point is the fact that Ethier is a free agent after 2012 and the Rays are highly unlikely to sign him to a long-term deal. The return of Jennings, Cobb and Torres would be the best the Dodgers could do out of any of these deals talent-wise. Jennings would allow Kemp to slide to right field, Cobb is having great success at Triple-A and was recently recalled to the majors and Torres is having a solid season.

I'd rank the deals in order of preference this way: Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Boston, Cleveland. It's hard to pass up two Major League-ready players in Alonso and Mesoraco at positions in which the Dodgers need help. Acquiring Alonso would also prompt the Dodgers to deal James Loney. The only problem is, his trade value is non-existent right now, despite his recent hot streak. It'd be nice to get Brown and Singleton from Philly, but they are the team's two best prospects and might not want to trade both. The Tampa deal is nice because Jennings is one of the best CF prospects in baseball and the two pitchers are ML-ready. The Red Sox's deal would be great if they're willing to trade Lowrie and Indians don't have much of a shot unless they want to trade Chisenhall.

I'm not sure if I'm overestimating Ethier's value, but I think two ML-ready prospects and third B-level prospect isn't too much to ask for an All-Star outfielder with a career .853 OPS.

I've always been an Ethier fan, but it's time to sell high on him. The Dodgers need to get cheap, young talent in return for him and look toward 2012.


  1. I'd say you are overvaluing Ethier a bit.

    I don't think Philly would trade either of Singelton or Brown individually for ethier, so there is no way they would trade both. Victorino has been great this year

    Ditto the Reds and Mesoraco/Alonso, I would be just hoping to land one of those guys in an Ethier deal. I would also be interested in a guy like Juan Francisco, who is flawed, but still better than any current Dodger 3rd baseman and young. Todd Frazier also has played 3rd and might be better than Francisco.

    The Rays never seem to make very big trades in season, and I would think they are too smart to trade Jennings for Ethier.

    As for the RedSox, there are a couple of prospects in their system that match up with the Dodgers that are lesser known. Ryan Lavarnway is a strong hitting catcher close to the majors. Lars Anderson was formerly a top firstbase prospect, and Yamaico Navarro is a former SS whom could play third. Ethier for those three would get me close to a deal.

    Some form of the Indians deal seems possible.

    It might be a good idea for the dodgers to wait until this off season to deal Ethier that way the number of interested parties is larger. Also, if the team fails to land Prince Fielder, keeping Ethier around (and possibly moving him to first) would be a fair alternative.

  2. I do agree he should be shopped, but a trade is not a necessity

  3. Mesoraco/Alonso for Ethier?? I am down. But Reds will say no. That package is more for a more premier player than Ethier.

  4. Yeah, I definitely blew it on that one. Like Table said, just getting one of them (preferably Mesoraco) would be great.

    It'll be interesting when the deadline rolls around. If the Dodgers make Ethier available, there probably won't be a better hitter on the market... perhaps increasing his value.