I’ve been pretty mum recently during the tornado of Andre Ethier trade rumors running rampant online. Scott has written a few great pieces regarding these trade scenarios which may or may not ever come to fruition. Most likely Andre Ethier will not be traded this winter. There’s no harm in thinking about and creating possible deals which could benefit the Dodgers, but outside of trading for Giancarlo Stanton, I do not feel that dealing away Ethier could enhance the current roster in a configuration which would lead to a better chance of winning it all.
Trading away power for prospects (whether top prospects or not) and or a lead-off hitter with exceptional defense (Michael Bourn), would not elevate the lineup but instead it would just stay status quo per say since Bourn is not a power bat. Sure, the Dodgers would gain a true lead-off hitter, and they would add a talented glove in the outfield. Yet the Dodgers lineup would lose the 18 homeruns per season which Ethier has averaged over his seven seasons with the Dodgers. The Dodgers are already at the bottom in the league when it comes to homeruns, and without Andre Ethier and a fully healthy Matt Kemp, they could very well remain in the running for last in the league in homers. Remember last season when we waited a week or more to see a Dodger homerun at times? Dustin Nosler of Feelin’ Kinda Blue wrote about how an Andre Ethier trade would improve farm system, but ultimately limits flexibility. I agree with him, and he makes some good points regarding Bourn’s high strikeout percentage (22% in 2012), and his concern about losing Ethier’s “pop out of the No. 6 spot” which is exactly my worry.
I have tried not to stress out about losing my favorite current Dodger via trade during these swirling rumors, yet it’s a reality of the game which unfortunately for fans is often emotionally charged. As Dodger fans, we all have our feelings toward the infamous Mike Piazza trade for example. Even though he’s no Piazza, Ethier has still contributed a lot to this team since debuting on May 2, 2006. His numbers last season (20 HRs, 89 RBIs, .284/.351/.460) were certainly good enough in the eyes of the Guggenheim Baseball Management to sign him to a 6-year and almost $100 million contract including his a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018.
Management made a point to sign Andre Ethier to a contract extension, and it was
said to be at the top of their list as the Dodgers transitioned into new ownership. When Andre Ethier signed his new contract, his wife Maggie Ethier was there to share the moment with her husband. The Dodgers even gave her a bouquet of flowers for the event. This doesn’t sound like a player in which they would be hot to trade after they embraced the Ethiers as part of the Dodger family. I’m not naive, and I know it is still quite possible that they could in fact move Ethier. The Dodgers are attempting to rebuild a depleted farm system, but accepting prospects in return for one of their best hitters and replacing him with a lead-off type hitter with no power seems like the wrong move in my opinion. In fact there are numerous holes in the roster to be welled up before thinking about trading away our best clutch hitter. How about that awful bench? Or the fact that the Dodgers have no viable back up for Adrian Gonzalez at first base? Or that third base could still use an upgrade?
Remember how Matt Kemp lobbied for Ethier to be signed so that he could play together with Dre and hopefully win a championship together? If the Dodgers are going to make a run for the postseason, they are going to need not only Kemp and Ethier, but also a healthy Chad Billingsley to make a playoff berth possible.
Jon Heyman responded to the rumors via Twitter today:
not sure where new ethier rumors came from. dont like to call anything impossible, but LAD & Sea havent talked “in weeks”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 2, 2013
Fan favorite or not, Andre Ethier is one of the better players on the team. Losing him could mean losing out on 2013.