Given what they’ve managed to accomplish, in terms of building up their Major League roster, over the course of the last couple of years, it should come as no surprise that the Los Angeles Dodgers will be right in the thick of things when a major move does take place at some point this winter, whether at this week’s GM Meetings or the Winter Meetings in December.
That expectation of a huge move goes for not only adding a significant piece to their roster, but perhaps sending one off as well. Though the offseason hasn’t been underway for more than a couple of weeks, the Dodgers have already made it clear that one of their trio of highly paid outfielders can be had via trade.
While that trio obviously doesn’t include the likes of Yasiel Puig, teams around the league could be more than intrigued by a small group of names that features Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier. However, intrigue may be as far as some teams are willing to go, as each of the three features a significant risk for the team that were to acquire him, not to mention the great deal of salary they’d likely be taking on.
If the Dodgers were to deal one of the three, they’d find the return to be less than desirable. It would be a move more focused on dumping salary and opening up playing time for three clear starters, rather than having a logjam at the spot. If the Dodgers were to move one of the three, which would they find the easiest to unload? Furthermore, which would be in the best interest of the Dodgers to move?
In terms of the former question, Matt Kemp would provide the Dodgers with the most desirable quantity of the three. In Kemp, you have a guy with significant injury issues over the course of the last few years, including a 2013 season that was almost completely lost due to a number of injuries. At the same time, he’s a five-tool player when healthy and an outstanding athlete.
As a contrast to the value that Kemp may have because of his skill set, Crawford may be the one least likely to bring a decent return. Moving him would be purely a player dump, just as it was when Crawford was acquired from the Boston Red Sox. The portion of his game that was predicated on speed is all but gone, and while he did have a bounce back year in 2013, it wasn’t anything that blew anybody away.
Then there’s the matter of Ethier. There was some surprise when he signed a contract extension to remain in Hollywood in 2012, but that deal hasn’t stopped the trade rumors that surrounded him prior to putting the pen to paper. His splits are less than desirable, but he’s a .288 hitter for his career, and brings some pop. Durability is a concern there, just as it is with Kemp, but to a lesser degree.
When it comes down to it, the Dodgers are going to have a difficult time moving any of the three, if they’re looking for a large return. If they’re looking to clear money and grab a soft return at the same time, Crawford could be the guy there. Kemp has the highest upside of the three, but his value is down after a couple of injury plagued seasons. If you’re betting on which of the three could be moved, Andre Ethier seems the prime candidate.
Regardless of how difficult it may be the move one of them, there are teams out there that need outfield help. This will be an intriguing situation to watch, and how much salary the Dodgers may have to retain in such a move, regardless of which of the three outfielders is moved this winter.