It didn’t take too long for the Dodgers to become the center of the baseball world, albeit in a less-than-desirable way.
Andre Ethier is signed through the next five seasons, not including a vesting option for 2018, and the Dodgers already have Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig locked into some sort of outfield for the next several years. I would have bet on Crawford being the odd-man out; he’s new to the organization and seemed to be a pure salary dump. But perhaps Ned Colletti and Stan Kasten perhaps realize that, while it will take considerable time to reassert Crawford’s value, Ethier can be dealt for several valuable pieces right now.
Andre has been a valuable member of the Boys in Blue, but he is replaceable. He plays substandard defense in right field, he cannot hit lefties (.649 career OPS against southpaws, .606 in 2012), and he’s prone to embarrassing verbal – er, let’s call them “gaffes.”
There are several reasons for why the hammer might fall now. The biggest one is obviously Josh Hamilton. The Rangers’ impending free agent is the only true marquis bat on the market, and after the Giants’ World Series win, LA may want to control headlines heading into 2013. They could also have other interests: accelerating Puig’s path to the majors (unlikely, considering he’s missing Arizona Fall League with a staph infection), retaining Shane Victorino’s services (more unlikely, considering his .667 OPS in Dodger Blue), or pursuing cheaper free agent outfielders, such as Ichiro Suzuki or Jonny Gomes.
A lot also depends on the kind of value Ethier might receive on the trade market. Andre’s porous glove and platoon-ready bat won’t fetch a true blue-chip prospect, but a weak free agent market could persuade some eager team to part ways with a couple of potential stars for an All-Star outfielder. And no, not A-Rod.
But of course, Olney’s tweet is merely a rumor. The leak could be a ploy. This could be the last time we hear of Ethier on the block for the rest of the year. But it’s still an interesting development, one that suggests the Dodgers are changing their mindset after watching their rivals hoist another championship.