COMMENTARY | As the Los Angeles Dodgers face off against the St. Louis Cardinals in a pitching-heavy NLCS, there are reports that the club will shop one or both of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier this offseason as it looks to clear its outfield logjam and potentially part with a big contract.
Unless the Dodgers get back a major and young piece under an affordable deal, the likelihood of them shopping Kemp is little to absolutely none, as two years ago he was the best player in the league and took a below-market deal to stay in Los Angeles.
While he has dealt with a number of serious injuries the last two years, he has continued to hit when healthy or relatively close to it, and. on top of that. his value is at an all-time low as he prepares to undergo another shoulder surgery and potentially ankle surgery as well.
However, trading Ethier is a real possibility. His production has fallen, he's dealt with injuries, and he was never more than a solid to good player to begin with, failing to surpass 3.2 fWAR in any of his eight major league seasons.
My crazy and wild dream trade? Andre Ethier for Tampa Bay Rays skipper Joe Maddon.
Why The Dodgers Would Do The Deal
The Dodgers, in parting ways with Ethier, would help to clear their outfield logjam, although it proved to be anything but a logjam this year with the injuries each outfielder suffered, including a basically lost season for Kemp.
Top prospect Joc Pederson is close to MLB-ready, so a logjam could still exist, although it could be taken care of as Pederson is very good trade bait, as I discussed a while back.
The Dodgers, most importantly, would get a major managerial upgrade in Maddon, who runs circles around Don Mattingly from a strategic standpoint (both run excellent clubhouses). The Dodgers have a club option of Donnie Baseball for 2014 and Maddon is under contract through 2015 for roughly $4 million total.
Why The Rays Would Do The Deal
Let me say this first: if I were the Rays, I would never consummate this deal. I firmly believe Joe Maddon to be the best manager in baseball and Ethier to be overpaid and overrated. But I follow the Dodgers, and this is a "wild trade" I would want to happen.
That being said, perhaps the Rays want to go in a different direction, and some in the baseball world (though perhaps not in the Tampa front office) don't like Maddon's eccentric personality, clubhouse "antics," and belief in sabermetric stats.
Ethier would add offensive punch to the Rays and would be able to slot into left field or DH, which is important with his recent injury history and mediocre, at best, defense. The Dodgers would, of course, pick up the majority of Dre's remaining contract (four years, $67.5 million with a club option for 2018).
The Dodgers can afford to eat contracts to part with players, and if they were to eat $50 million and maybe even toss in a mid-level prospect with little to no future with the club, things get more interesting.
Andre would be a major upgrade in left, as the Rays' left fielders struggled mightily against righty pitching. Andre could easily be platooned more than the Dodgers were ever willing to do so, and it would greatly increase his value, as he handles righties but is atrocious against southpaws.
While not every trade is probable, any trade is possible simply because we've seen so many transactions throughout the history of baseball and countless other sports where you're shocked one or both teams made the deal.
Just because we think a deal to be impossible for whatever the reason doesn't mean one of the parties involved won't pull the trigger and surprise us all. Left field was a MASH unit for the Rays in 2013, and Ethier would provide much more stability.
Andre Ethier for Joe Maddon isn't likely to ever happen, but I also never thought the Dodgers would trade Carlos Santana for Casey Blake or the Royals would trade Wil Myers for James Shields.
Greg Zakwin is the founder of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle, a Dodgers' and sports card blog. He writes with an analytical tilt about The Blue Crew at ChadMoriyama.com. You can find and follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke. A graduate of UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor's in History, he's been a follower of the Dodgers since birth and still mourns the loss of both Mike Piazza and Carlos Santana.
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