So, when Texas Rangers beat writer Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote the team is open to the idea of trading All-Star closer Joe Nathan -- naming the Dodgers as the best fit because of outfield depth -- I was slightly baffled.
It's no secret the Dodgers are looking for a bullpen upgrade (which they might not even need at this point), and the Rangers are struggling and looking for another outfielder. The Rangers lost Josh Hamilton to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this winter and could be close to losing Nelson Cruz to a Biogenesis-related suspension. But the Dodgers' outfield depth isn't as pronounced as it might seem to the public.
On the surface, some kind of Ethier-for-Nathan swap makes some sense. Nathan is as good as he's ever been, and Ethier probably isn't long for Los Angeles with Yasiel Puig doing Yasiel Puig things. But Ethier should stay put the for rest of this season (barring any unrealistic trade offer).
With Matt Kemp on the disabled list for a third time this season and Carl Crawford no stranger to the DL (and out the past couple games with illness), the Dodgers' outfield depth isn't as deep as it was in March. All the same guys are still with the organization, but injuries have made having that depth even more important.
If the Dodgers moved Ethier, that means they'd be relying on Kemp to be healthy the rest of the season. In the past, that wasn't an issue. Kemp started 399 games in a row at one point in his career, but, now, he's not a lock to stay healthy for more than a couple weeks.
Yes, the team could probably survive with some kind of Scott Van Slyke/Joc Pederson platoon, but it would be far from preferred for a team that's primed to really contend for the National League pennant.
As for Nathan, the Rangers are trying to cash in on his value and the inflated relief pitcher market. Francisco Rodriguez went from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Baltimore Orioles for Nick Delmonico, who figures to be a top 3 guy in the Brewers' system. The San Francisco Giants are seeking an MLB-ready starting pitcher for Javier Lopez. The Los Angeles Angels got a 25-year-old reliever in Cory Rasmus for Scott Downs, which is a much more realistic return for a left-handed-one-out-only guy. Now, Chicago White Sox reliever Jesse Crain, an All-Star in 2013, is on the verge of being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays or a #MysteryTeam.
It makes perfect sense the Rangers want to move Nathan and his 1.73 ERA, 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings and his roughly $4 million left on his contract (including a $750,000 buyout for 2014).
Sadly, there is no fit here for both teams. The Dodgers won't be dealing Ethier until the winter, and the Rangers probably wouldn't want a guy like Pederson right now for Nathan -- and I'd be livid if the Dodgers even entertained the idea of trading Pederson for Nathan.
The non-waiver trade deadline is two days away. If the suddenly sinking Rangers (lost four in a row, 2-8 in their last 10 games, six games behind the Oakland A's) want to get a return for Nathan, they'll likely have to adjust their asking price. But in a thin trade market, Nathan could bring a significant return -- just not from the Dodgers.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
- Sports & Recreation
- Andre Ethier
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Joe Nathan
- Los Angeles Angels