The Dodgers are shopping right fielder Andre Ethier, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, and that could mean they’re in the hunt for Nick Swisher to serve as his replacement in right. Normally, this wouldn’t be enough to warrant a post, but Mike Petriello said he heard similar yesterday afternoon, so the rumor appears to have legs.
The news marks a surprising turn of events given that Ethier just signed a five-year extension for $85 million six months ago, but nothing regarding this team under the new ownership should be seen as truly shocking anymore.
As far as Ethier’s value goes, what is it? Not much, really, because with an AAV of $17 million, he’s already being paid above market value. However, in a vacuum, Ethier is a solidly above-average player, which would absolutely carry value if his contract was more reasonable. As such, the assumption here would be that in order to get a return on him, the Dodgers would have to eat a significant portion of his contract, thus making him attractive to a potential suitor.
Swisher ties into this drama because he’s basically the last corner outfield option left for those that missed out on Josh Hamilton and friends, so it’s no surprise that he’s drawing interest from the Red Sox, Phillies, Mariners, Rangers, and Orioles. However, that interest level is probably why Ethier is on the block, because Ethier is a similar player to Swisher, except almost two years younger.
But why would the Dodgers be interested in replacing Ethier with Swisher? I’m not totally sure, because they’re basically the same player except Ethier is younger. Swisher has a 125 OPS+ the past three years compared to Ethier’s 126, and their defense and baserunning are about pushes. The primary difference in their lines is that Ethier has a severe platoon split (.913 RHP/.649 LHP), while Swisher doesn’t (.820 RHP/.842 LHP). While that does carry some value, at the end of the day, it’s the player’s total contribution to the team that matters (WAR), and they’re about the same in that aspect.
Look, I certainly wasn’t a fan of the extension that Ethier was signed to, but these potential deals surely aren’t being done with the thought of saving money by signing Swisher and dealing Ethier, at least if the payroll situation is to be believed. As such, it’s about the better player, and from that perspective, I see little value in making this trade unless there’s significant return for Ethier. That, of course, is always a possibility, but I remain skeptical since I certainly wouldn’t do it as an opposing GM.
Remember, if you guys don’t want him, then what makes you think other teams will be clamoring to give up significant pieces to get him? Cuts both ways.
Update 1: Ken Rosenthal has confirmed the report and has added details.
The Dodgers are shopping Ethier, major-league sources say — and their intent might be to clear a spot for a free agent such as first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher or center fielder Michael Bourn.
However, one official with knowledge of the Dodgers’ thinking says that the talks about Ethier originated from inquiries by two American League clubs, and that the Dodgers are not actively pursuing a deal.
That official says that the renewed interest in Ethier stems from the shrinking pool of available hitters on both the free-agent and trade markets.
The Dodgers have “zero intention” of trading Ethier, the official said, but will listen to offers. The discussions, to this point, have failed to progress.
Whatever the Dodgers’ intentions, it seems doubtful that any team would take Ethier’s new contract in its entirety. He is a career .238 hitter against left-handed pitching.
But, in the words of one source who has been in contact with the Dodgers, “I wouldn’t put anything past them. They’ve got so much money, they don’t care.”
I have no idea why the Dodgers would have no intention of trading Ethier, honestly. If possible I would like to replace him with a better player, but I just don’t think Swisher is all that different.
Update 2: Mike Petriello says the Mariners and Rangers are two of the teams that asked about Ethier.
Update 3: Jon Heyman says that the Dodgers talked with Swisher but that it was weeks ago.