COMMENTARY | I've been trying to trade Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier for years. I've tried to trade him here for months.
Now that the offseason is in full swing, an Ethier trade could happen sooner rather than later.
The Red Sox have need for an outfielder after Jacoby Ellsbury signed a huge deal with the New York Yankees last week. While Ethier isn't a center fielder, the Red Sox could move Shane Victorino to center field while slotting Ethier into right field (or left, if they so desire).
Ethier is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. They went to Arizona State University together and have reportedly talked about playing on the same team in the majors.
The absolute best-case scenario is the Dodgers sending Ethier to Boston for Will Middlebrooks (while paying no money). I mean, the Red Sox owe the Dodgers a break after the Nick Punto trade, right?
The Red Sox wouldn't be able to make the move until they have secured another shortstop or third baseman. Xander Bogaerts would play shortstop or third base. The easiest move would be for the Red Sox to re-sign Stephen Drew. He declined their qualifying offer and there aren't exactly a lot of teams lining up to sign him because they'd have to forfeit a draft pick.
With the third base market barren, that would be the best move, if the Red Sox want Ethier.
The Mariners are seemingly in on everyone after signing Robinson Cano. I wrote about a possible fit for Matt Kemp yesterday (not well-received by M's fans, as expected), but they've been long-rumored to be interested in Ethier.
Ideally, the Dodgers would get Nick Franklin for Ethier while paying a third of Ethier's remaining deal. Then the Dodgers could figure out how to use Franklin or flip him in another deal. If they couldn't land Franklin, the Dodgers could look for a couple of lesser young players to fill holes or use as trade chips.
The Mariners definitely need an outfielder, and Ethier's ability to play all three positions (center field in limited time) bodes well for his value.
The O's need an outfielder and have been linked to Nelson Cruz. Ethier, however, wouldn't cost them a draft pick. He would cost them a guy like J.J. Hardy.
Manny Machado is one of the best young players in the game and would play shortstop on 25-plus other teams in baseball. He might end up being better than Hardy at shortstop, and they have a capable replacement for third base in Danny Valencia.
I suspect Orioles fans will hate this, but their farm system isn't a great match for the Dodgers and Ethier. The only other player I could see fitting is catcher Matt Wieters, who is reportedly available. There would have to be other pieces included, though.
The Rangers have been relatively quiet in the Ethier market. They've been in on Kemp more, but I suspect they're cooling on him because of medicals (just a hunch).
They have Leonys Martin in center field and just acquired Michael Choice. He's a rookie who could be solid. I'm thinking Ethier would thrive offensively and defensively (left field) in Texas.
Shin-Soo Choo could be too rich for the Rangers' blood, as he's asking for near-Ellsbury money. They could also bring back Cruz, but they aren't exactly jumping at the opportunity to do that.
As for what the Dodgers could want/expect in return, well, that's the tricky part. They aren't getting Jurickson Profar or Adrian Beltre. Elvis Andrus could be in play, but a .688 OPS shortstop (in Arlington) due more than $126 million through 2022 isn't exactly appealing for the Dodgers and their seemingly bottomless pockets.
Of the four teams, the Rangers seem like the worst fit. The Orioles probably wouldn't give up Hardy and the package for Wieters could get pricey. It seems the Red Sox or Mariners are the best bets. I'm inclined to go with the Red Sox because Middlebrooks would fill a massive hole in LA until Corey Seager is ready. Plus, Mark McGwire could work with him in hopes of improving the 25-year-old at the plate.
The Dodgers absolutely need to trade an outfielder this winter, and I think it should be Ethier. Having said that, the Dodgers probably keep all four of them and acquire another before spring training just to spite me.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Los Angeles Dodgers' blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast and writes about the St. Louis Rams for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
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