COMMENTARY | Andre Ethier is finally catching fire, and it might be the perfect time to deal him. Yes, it's inadvisable to trade a hot hitter when three other outfielders are on the disabled list, but his value might not be high enough this time next week or the week after if the Los Angeles Dodgers don't move him now.
They aren't going to move him now (and probably not during this season), but it's fun to dream ... sometimes.
The Seattle Mariners were one of the teams most heavily linked to Ethier in the winter and early in the spring. The Mariners have a struggling young player in Dustin Ackley. I'm wondering if there's a match to be made.I threw the question out on Twitter a couple days ago and, as expected, got mixed responses.
@FeelinKindaBlue: "Random question: Would you trade Andre Ethier for Dustin Ackley right now? Who says no #Dodgers #Mariners"
@xSince89x: "I was thinking that same thing this past week. I guess Ackley has been doing some OF drills. But how thin our 2B depth is hm."
@EEstaris: "Need to know how much $$$ the Dodgers will eat and what prospect(s) they have to give back. Straight up? Its a no-brainer."
@ccaarrllooss: "no way, he just can't hit."
@DanielBrim: "I would consider it if they took on all of Ethier's contract. Otherwise, no thanks."
@DodgerFan_Sean: "ackley is being groomed as an OF currently in the minors. As a 2b, yes, as an OF no."
@JoeDoyleSports: "If you're a Mariners fan, ABSOLUTELY not."
Ackley, save for a solid 90-game debut in 2011, has been downright awful as a major leaguer. In his first full season, he hit .226/.294/.328 with 12 home runs, 50 RBIs and 13 stolen bases -- disappointing many Mariner fans and fantasy baseball owners (such as yours truly). OK, sophomore slump, right? Nope.
Ackley has a .205/.266/.250 triple slash this season and was demoted to Triple-A earlier this month. Drafted as a first baseman/outfielder-type, Ackley was to be the M's second baseman of the future. Now, the team has moved him back to the outfield in Tacoma. If the Dodgers were to pull off this deal, I'd like to see them try Ackley at second base, as the team has no long-term answer for the position.
Some have questioned Ackley's future potential based on his lack of strength. Lack of strength doesn't have much to do with his plate discipline, but it does impact it if pitchers just pour mid-90s fastballs in the strike zone because they don't think Ackley can make them pay with more than just a single.
The Dodgers' hitting coach is Mark McGwire, one of the strongest humans to ever don a baseball jersey (performance-enhanced or otherwise). He knows how to get the most out of younger hitters, which he did with the St. Louis Cardinals, but has yet to do in Los Angeles.
Ackley's talent is there. He was a consensus Top-5 pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of North Carolina and ended being popped at No. 2 overall. That doesn't happen without good scouting and talent. Perhaps Ackley just needs a change of scenery.
The Mariners need a legitimate bat in the middle of their lineup. While Ethier isn't as legitimate as he was a few years ago, he's still better than most of the outfielder/designated hitters on that club.
Mike Morse, who got off to a blazing start, has just a .770 OPS on the season. Raul Ibanez has a team-leading 14 home runs, but he's also 41 years old and probably isn't capable of sustaining a .492 slugging percentage the entire season. Michael Saunders has a robust .607 OPS and Jason Bay, who is, despite popular belief, still in Major League Baseball, has a .706 OPS.
Ethier's .710 OPS (and rising) doesn't look too bad by comparison.
If the teams were to hook up on this kind of deal, the Dodgers would almost assuredly have to include some money -- but maybe not the $40 million (or half) as speculated by national media types.
Both players are struggling, which is usually a prime ingredient for a trade. This kind of deal could morph into a bigger deal, but the basics would be Ethier-for-Ackley. While trading a fan favorite in Ethier isn't a good move public relations-wise (see: Lo Duca, Paul, 2004), it could be good for the team -- especially in the short-term.
If I'm the Dodgers, I strongly consider making this kind of deal. Rolling the dice on Ackley while shedding some salary and opening up an unquestioned full-time spot for Yasiel Puig makes too much sense (which is also why it won't happen). If the Dodgers can make a deal like this when Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke are all healthy, that would be preferred.
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
- Seattle Mariners
- Dustin Ackley