Maybe the Dodgers don’t have unlimited finances after all.
After new ownership rescued the Los Angeles Dodgers from bankruptcy and the grasp of Frank McCourt, the club wasted little time in showing the fanbase how willing tthey were to spend big to acquire talent. One of the biggest transactions completed this past season was to ink right fielder Andre Ethier to a five-year, $85 million extension. Now, just four months after signing that deal, the Dodgers are looking to trade Ethierand his mega-contract.
Ethier posted a solid OPS of .811 and added 20 home runs, but really struggled versus left handed pitching. That said, he could thrive in a more hitter-friendly environment, as Dodger Stadium has always heavily favored pitchers.
He’ll turn 31 just after Opening Day and his deal will run through his age-35 season, so it’s not as if the Dodgers or whomever would acquire Ethier would be getting his prime years. If anything, Ethier’s decline phase has probably already begun. It would be a hard sell for GM Ned Colletti to pitch Ethier to another club without taking on at least some salary.
None of this is to say that Ethier won’t draw interest. There will be plenty of disappointed team when Josh Hamilton signs and Ethier represents a very good left-handed corner outfield bat and one that is better than Delmon Young with the glove (not saying much, I know, but opinions vary widely on Ethier’s glovework).
The Dodgers head into the off-season with a starting outfield already under contract with Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford set to play alongside Ethier. Unfortunately, those three are also set to make a combined $55 million in 2013 and the Dodgers as a team have an alarming $192 million (according to Cot’s) already committed to the 2013 payroll, and that’s before free agency even begins. Incidently, they’re paying Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones a little over $11 million next year. You can’t blame all of the previous problems on the McCourts.
Ethier’s deal won’t be easy to trade, but it is worth less money next season than most of the rest of the Dodger hitters. The Dodgers would be open to bringing back Shane Victorino should they find a taker for Ethier.
Magic Johnson and the rest of the new ownership group flexed their muscle in taking on contract after contract with the mid-season pick-ups of Hanley Ramirez, Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett. Now, with nearly $200 million already spent on next year, reality may be setting in a bit for a team that came up short in 2012 and occupies the same division as the World Champion Giants. The Dodgers are going to have to try to save some money somewhere and they don’t want to part with Kemp, who, despite his $20 million plus price tag, would generate incredible interest.
Instead, it’s Ethier on the block and the Dodgers will hope they can move him and his contract this off-season.
UPDATE: Jon Heyman reports he has sources that refute Olney’s tweet and say an Ethier trade will not happen. Welcome to the Hot Stove season, folks. Where every seemingly every rumor will be confirmed and denied at the exact same time.