Sunday, December 23, 2012

While unlikely, trading Andre Ethier to the Rangers could benefit Dodgers

While an Andre Ethier trade is pretty unlikely (gave it a 20 percent chance of happening in the latest episode of "Dugout Blues," and that's generous), it isn't completely out of the realm of possibility.

Along with the Mariners, a team that is interested in his services is the Texas Rangers, as Mike Petriello reported.

The Rangers haven't had a successful offseason, by most accounts. They lost out on Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, Josh Hamilton went to Anaheim, R.A. Dickey went north of the border in a big trade, Edwin Jackson signed with the Cubs and Mike Adams left via free agency.

They've kicked the tires on Adam LaRoche and Cody Ross (who signed with the Diamondbacks on Saturday), and now have interest in Michael Bourn after signing A.J. Pierzynski.

Still, the Rangers' best route to improve this winter could be via trade. That's where the Dodgers come in.

From Friday's post, here's a list of the Dodgers' needs:
  • Third base
  • Second base
  • Left-handed reliever
  • Fourth outfielder
I'm adding farm system depth, which is something the team should always be on the lookout for.

The Rangers have a really good farm system, and one player in particular stands out as their best trade chip: Mike Olt.

The 24-year-old third baseman is blocked by Adrian Beltre at third base and I don't think Texas is ready to move him off the position just yet.

Olt had a small cup of coffee this season, batting .152/.250/.182 in 40 plate appearances with the Rangers. His real damage came in the Texas League (Double-A), where he hit .288/.398/.579 with 28 home runs and 61 walks in 421 plate appearances. His strikeout rate is a tad high for my liking (24.4 percent for his minor-league career), but he offsets that with his power and good plate discipline (career 14.4 percent walk rate).

The more I look at Olt, who is a potentially plus defender at third base, the more I'd like the Dodgers to nab him in an Ethier deal. The Rangers won't be rushing to trade a talent like him, but they obviously wouldn't be opposed to moving him in the right deal.

Another player who would interest the Dodgers is Ian Kinsler. Just a year or so ago, it'd be inconceivable the Rangers would even entertain trading him. However, the emergence of Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus' elite play at shortstop have almost made Kinsler expendable. Almost.

The 30-year-old is coming off a down season in which he hit .256/.326/.423 with 19 home runs, 42 doubles and 60 walks in 731 plate appearances. He went from a 7.5 fWAR in 2011 to 3.2 in 2012. While it's unrealistic to expect he'd WAR in the sevens yearly, one would expect a better WAR than he posted.

Kinsler was a good defender at second base in 2011 (16.2 UZR/150, 18 defensive runs saved) and an unspectacular defender in 2012 (0.0 UZR/150, 1 DRS). He's in the middle of his prime, but he's on the other side of 30 (just barely). If the Rangers are going to move Kinsler, now would be the time. He just signed a 5-year, $75 million extension in April, but it'd probably be best to move him before he's not worth the contract.

All things being equal, I'd probably swap Ethier for either of these two straight-up. Texas probably wouldn't want to take on all Ethier's salary in an Olt deal, so there'd be cash and other players involved.

My proposals

To Texas: Ethier, cash
To L.A.: Olt, David Murphy

Why it works for Texas: The Rangers use one of their best trade chips to acquire their left fielder (Nelson Cruz in right field) who should have a field day in that park. He won't replace Hamilton's production, but he'll help mitigate the loss. Plus, the team keeps its double-play combo of Andrus and Profar (with Kinsler moving to first base). 

Why it works for L.A.: The Dodgers get their starting third baseman and can finally rid themselves of Juan Uribe. They also get a stopgap replacement for Ethier in Murphy, who won't be nearly as good outside Texas' hitter-friendly confines.

To Texas: Ethier, Chris Withrow, cash
To L.A.: Kinsler

Why it works for Texas: The money is about even, but the team opens up a spot for Profar at second base while replacing Kinsler with a potential thumping outfielder. It also acquires a former top prospect who's local to the area (Austin) and still has a lot of arm talent. Plus, it gets to keep Olt as a potential trade chip in July.

Why it works for L.A.: The Dodgers get their leadoff man and second baseman (sorry, Mark Ellis). His production dip in 2012 is a little alarming, but he's just 30 and has time to rebound.

As is with every trade I propose on this blog, I'm not sure how realistic it is. If you look at the comments from Friday's post, you'll see I probably went a little overboard (in the Dodgers' favor) on my proposal.

While the Mariners might be a better fit (needs-wise) for the Dodgers, the Rangers might ultimately be the best trading partner because there aren't as many moving pieces.

Photo credits: mikelachance816, Flickr


  1. Here's an idea, trade Capuano, Harang, Van Slyke, and Uribe to Texas for Olt,Soto, and Hottovy. That give the Dodgers more bullpen depth as well as freeing up some cash, it gets rid of Uribe and provides a right handed hitting back up 1st and 3rd baseman and catcher and give Federovits more minor league experience. Texas will get two quality starting pitchers, a back up 1st baseman and back 3rd baseman.And frees a spot for Pierzynski. And the Dodgers still keep Ethier.

    1. ......why on earth would texas make that trade?!

  2. How abou [our bad players] for [their good prospects]. Why would [other team] say no?

  3. to Dodgers:
    Elvis Andrus (replaced by Profor) leadoff batter
    Mike Olt (blocked by Adrian) #6 batter

    to Texas:
    3 top prospects (not inc Puig/Zack Lee/Seager)

    1 SS E Andrus
    2 LF C Crawford
    3 CF M Kemp
    4 1B A Gonzalez
    5 RF H Ramirez
    6 3B M Olt
    7 C AJ Ellis
    8 2B M Ellis


    1. Very intriguing...

    2. Good idea. But I'm sure atleast lee would have to be inn that deal. only thing is where do you put hanley? RF no way. Would have to trade him to seattle Gutierrez Franklin and hultzen.

  4. I doubt Andrus is an option. Texas doesn't want to give up Andrus for Justin Upton so I doubt they'll give him up for Ethier

    1. Yep. Didn't mention him as a possibility for a reason. Texas isn't trading him.

  5. One need that you are forgetting is a starting catcher for ether now or in the very near future. Ellis is going to be 32 or 33, and he played way over his head last year. They should deal with the Mariners for Montera(sic) or some team that has a good young STARTING catcher. Seattle has two Zunino and Montera. The Dodgers are short in this position. Seattle is the best place to go , make it good enough to get Seager with the catcher.

    1. You're an idiot. We have no chance at acquiring Montero and seager... I doubt we could even work a deal for one of them...

  6. Kinsler's alarming decline in production last year should be at the very least a yellow flag, and at the most a bright red flag. I'd stay away from him.