On November 8, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the Dodgers would listen to teams interested in trading for Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp. On the surface, each of these outfielders would fill immediate need(s) the Mets currently have.
Despite that, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported on November 9 the Mets are not considering any of them this winter.
It's best for Sandy Alderson and the Mets to avoid these Los Angeles outfielders, and here's why:
There were great expectations for Crawford after signing a seven-year/$142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. Putting together a .260/.292/.419 line in 161 games played over two seasons didn't fulfill those expectations laid out for him.
Los Angeles was hoping a change of scenery would rejuvenate the left fielder after acquiring him in a blockbuster trade in August 2012 with Boston. And to a degree, it did.
Crawford hit .283/.329/.407, being used primarily as a leadoff hitter. He hit line drives 23% of the time. That mark was the best of his career, and the first time since 2008 he eclipsed the 20% mark.
He did bounce back, but again had problems staying on the field. He played in 116 games this past season; he hasn't played more than 130 games in a year since he suited up 154 times for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. His speed is also in a steady decline. He stole 15 bases in 2013, the lowest total of his career since becoming an everyday player in 2003.
Crawford is due to earn $81.5 million over the last four guaranteed years of his contract. Those years are his age-32 through age-35 seasons. The Mets need a leadoff hitter, but they'll need one that's productive and durable. Crawford would provide neither of those qualities.
The Mets have been rumored to be interested in Ethier for a while. He's an established corner outfielder with 20-plus home run power.
Ethier struggled with inconsistency at the plate in 2013. The left-handed hitter put together a .272/.360/.423 line with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs.
Those numbers don't look awful, but he's another player New York must avoid. Like Crawford, Ethier is signed through the 2017 season (including a vesting option for 2018). From his age-32 through age-35 seasons, he's due to earn a total of $69 million.
While Ethier is at the beginning of the five-year extension he signed in 2012, his most productive days at the plate are likely behind him. Since his career year in 2009 (.272/.361/.508 with 31 home runs and 106 RBIs), he's been in a steady decline.
Using advanced metrics, it's clear to see where he's struggling. His isolated power has dropped from .237 in 2009, to .151 in 2013, now considered slightly above average. Also, his runs created (wRC) has dropped from 106 in '09 to 57 this past season, which is below average.
Fresh off his MVP-caliber season in 2011, the Dodgers extended Kemp for eight years to the tune of $160 million. That seemed like a bargain considering his .324/.399/.586 line with 39 homers, 126 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases the season before.
That hasn't been the case.
Kemp has battled injuries since signing his contract, playing in 106 games in 2012, followed by 73 in 2013. The skill of the 28-year-old is apparent, but he needs to stay on the field for his team to take advantage of it.
The center fielder will be making no less than $21 million per season through 2019, when he will be 34 years old. His deal is the best of these three because LA will be paying a premium for what should be the best years of his career.
Acquiring a player with the prowess of Kemp could change an entire lineup. He would be exactly what the Mets are looking for in the power department; his speed would be gravy on top.
The Mets' front office is under incredible pressure to make moves, but they have to be sure they're making the right ones. There will always be risk when acquiring a player via trade or free agency, but the pros must outweigh the cons.
That doesn't happen with any of these players, and Sandy Alderson should continue looking elsewhere for outfield help.
Baseball Reference - statistics and salary information
FanGraphs - advanced statistics
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, Mets Minors, and Rising Apple. To keep up with Matt, you can follow him on Twitter.
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