Any speculation about the Los Angeles Dodgers trading right fielder Andre Ethier should be accompanied by the following caveats.
First and foremost, baseball agents have agendas, and if it helps to have a client's name attached to a particular trade rumor, that's reason enough to float the information. And second, a fair percentage of what you read about this player or that going to Team A or Team B is pure fiction.
Clubs have agendas too, of course, but if you pose a direct question to a team official, you're likely to get a useful answer, even if some parsing may be required.
FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal got the Ethier ball rolling this morning with an article entitled, "Are Dodgers shopping Andre Ethier?" In it, Rosenthal quotes "one official with knowledge of the Dodgers' thinking" as saying, among other things, that Los Angeles has "zero intention" of trading Ethier. And depending on whom you believe Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton have no intention of running for president in 2016. Right now, today, at this very moment.
A source within the Dodgers organization told me this afternoon that "the Dodgers have no interest in trading Andre Ethier." Notice the monumental difference there, "interest" rather than "intention?" It's not much, but at least it's from the horse's mouth.
Nick Swisher is looking for a free agent deal and has already been linked to L.A., but remember, it serves Swisher to have that his name bandied about, especially in association with this year's big-spending Dodgers. Maybe it helps him get a bigger payday from the Cleveland Indians, or who knows what club. So take the Swisher-to-Los-Angeles talk with a grain of salt.
Some deem Swisher a good fit for Los Angeles since he's a switch-hitter and because Ethier is hitting .238 lifetime against left-handers (and .222 in 2012). Yes, but Ethier has a .266/.356/.500 line in postseason play; Swisher's October underachieving has been well-chronicled, and it's even uglier on paper that it is on grass: .169/.283/.305. And the bigger the stage, the worse he gets. Swisher is a .200 hitter in the ALDS, a .141 man in the ALCS, and managed all of .133 during his one World Series, in 2009.
Talk to me all you like about sample size. The Dodgers are looking to prosper in the postseason above all else, and Swisher hasn't shown he can succeed there. Not in the least. And they'd have to sacrifice a draft pick to get him.
Perhaps the Dodgers acquire a right-handed hitter with some sock to spell Ethier against the occasional southpaw. Or more than just the occasional southpaw.
Maybe that player pinch hits for Ethier at times against the left-handed relief specialist in the late innings of games next season, and maybe that player's presence on the bench keeps the opposing manager from even going to the pen in the first place. Maybe that leads to more production from Ethier.
And maybe just maybe the Dodgers have even less interest (or intention) in signing Nick Swisher than they do in trading Andre Ethier.
Michael Bourn, on the other hand, now that's an intriguing conversation to get into. God only knows if the rumors connecting Bourn and the Dodgers hold water or not, but at least it makes sense. Trading Ethier and replacing him with a newly-signed free agent like Bourn would free up Matt Kemp to move to what may be his more natural right field position, reducing at least a little wear and tear in the process. The obvious addition of a legitimate leadoff man slash stolen base threat is reason for excitement as well.
But we'll see. The Dodgers have "no interest in trading Andre Ethier." They also have "no intention" of trading Andre Ethier. Today, Tuesday, December 18, 2012. Unless and until they do.