First, let's identify the Dodgers' remaining needs.
I recently wrote a post saying Luis Cruz isn't the answer at third base. He isn't, but there really aren't any great alternatives. Juan Uribe, painfully, has one more year on his contract and might not break camp with the club. The Dodgers would absolutely have to get some sort of third baseman in return for Ethier.
With Scott Elbert coming off elbow surgery and Paco Rodriguez entering his first full season as a professional, the Dodgers could use a veteran lefty out of the bullpen. If it were up to me and Elbert was 100 percent healthy, I'd have no problem with them being the lefties. Methinks Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly would disagree.
The Dodgers do have Mark Ellis, who is still a plus defender at the position. They also have Skip Schumaker, who isn't. But looking toward 2014, the Dodgers are going to need someone to replace Ellis. Perhaps a prospect who's not quite Major-League ready could be in play.
I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of Schumaker being the fourth outfielder. The Dodgers need a guy who can truly play center field and who is preferably right-handed. The entire Dodger bench is lacking in quality, but they don't have a legitimate fourth outfielder at this moment.
Those are probably the Dodgers' three biggest needs right now. They certainly don't need any starting pitchers, as they're trying to trade one or two. They don't necessarily need another right-handed reliever, but if they get a guy with tons of arm talent, it'd be tough to pass that up.
There are two confirmed teams to have talks with the Dodgers about Ethier -- Seattle and Texas. In this post, I'll take a look at what Seattle has to offer.
The Mariners are trying to give their money away to hitters, yet no one is biting. They were in on Josh Hamilton before he signed with Anaheim and have interest in Nick Swisher, who isn't reciprocating said interest. The offensive-starved team did land Kendrys Morales on Wednesday, but he won't be enough to revitalize their offense.
Seattle has a lot of interesting pieces, some of which might not be available in trade.
The Dodgers would seemingly have interest in guys like Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin and Franklin Gutierrez.
Let's just get this out of the way now: the Mariners aren't trading Ackley to the Dodgers for Ethier. The 2009 No. 2 overall pick had a great debut season in 2011, but had a severe case of the sophomore slump in 2012. Despite the slump, I'd almost swap Ethier straight-up for Ackley.
Seager, the older brother of Corey Seager, was the Mariners' primary third baseman in 2012, playing 138 games at the hot corner. He hit 20 home runs while posting a .259/.316/.423 triple slash. Not bad for a 24-year-old in a difficult place to hit. His splits -- home/road and left/right -- weren't favorable.
Seager did most of his damage on the road (.293/.324/.511, 15 home runs) and against right-handed pitching (.272/.335/.449, 13 home runs) -- the latter of which make him look like a platoon player. Perhaps a platoon of Seager and Cruz at third base wouldn't be the worst thing, but it'd hardly be like having Chase Headley there.
Franklin is one of the Mariners' top position prospects. He's a shortstop and probably profiles better at second base long-term. With Ackley there, the Mariners would need to keep him at shortstop. However, if they acquired a shortstop (Dee Gordon), they could be more inclined to move the 21-year-old. He posted a .278/.347/.453 triple slash between Double- and Triple-A, including a .322/.394/.502 line at Double-A Jackson. I'd like to see him replace Ellis in 2014.
Gutierrez, a former Dodger prospect, is an elite defender in center field. Problem is, he doesn't hit well and has a hard time staying healthy. His not hitting well can be rectified by playing him predominantly against left-handed pitching (career .293/.351/.479 against lefties). Gutierrez is so elite in center (How elite is he?!) he once posted a 6.3 fWAR. It also came du. ring his best offensive season, but it's still impressive. I think he'd be the perfect fourth outfielder for the Dodgers.
To Seattle: Ethier, Gordon, cash (to offset some of Ethier's money)
To L.A.: Seager, Franklin, Gutierrez, Brandon Maurer
Why it works for Seattle: The M's get a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat who can slide into right field. They also get a shortstop who was a Top 30 overall prospect just a couple years ago. Oh, and some green stuff so they're not taking on all of Ethier's $85 million.
Why it works for L.A.: The Dodgers get a starting third baseman, a second baseman of the future, a fourth outfielder and a really good right-handed pitching prospect. The M's would still have a stacked system if they lost a couple guys out of the middle of their Top 10.
The Mariners are also interested in Chris Capuano, who seems to have more trade value after the M's dealt Jason Vargas (who isn't as good) for Morales. If the Dodgers included him, this could be quite the hefty deal.
Having said all this, I'm not sure how realistic my proposal is. The Dodgers would still need a right fielder for the season. With Seager at third base, the right fielder wouldn't have to be someone of great note -- just someone serviceable until Yasiel Puig is (hopefully) ready in 2014.
Photo credit: Cbl62, Wikimedia Commons