Really, Dodgers? We're going to do this again? Really?
Just a few days shy of the first anniversary of Andre Ethier signing a five-year, $85 million contract extension, the Dodgers are said to be looking to trade away the former All-Star... for the third time.
Yes, that fickle GM Ned Colletti is rumored to be ready to take another crack at ridding himself of that onerous contract that he was responsible for. He first tried to unload Ethier back in December when Colletti thought he might prefer to re-sign Shane Victorino instead. That didn't pan out for a variety of reasons. He supposedly took another run at finding an Ethier trade right before the season started to clear a spot in the lineup for Yasiel Puig who had just finished up a monster spring training. That also never went anywhere.
Now, with Puig in the majors and looking like a bona fide superstar, Colletti is going to hope that the third time is the charm when it comes to moving Ethier. But what makes him think the market will be any different?
The problem Colletti had in his previous two attempts is that he clearly values Ethier more than anyone else. That albatross of an $85 million extension he just gave Ethier speaks to just how good Colletti thinks he is. What really hurts is that Ethier has only lost value since he signed that contract, a deal that was roundly mocked when it was agreed upon a year ago.
Since then, Ethier has come out this season with a .229/.316/.348 slash line and only a few weeks ago was benched by manager Don Mattingly because he didn't think Ethier was "competitive" enough. Somehow the Dodgers are going to drum up more interest for Ethier now than they did during their two off-season attempts when teams had more roster and financial flexibility. Good luck with that.
Even if one were to chalk up his struggles this year to being something of a fluke, Ethier is still a 31-year old outfielder in decline that has never been able to hit lefties and whose defense rates somewhere between terrible and below average. Oh, and he has a brutal contract that no team in their right mind would ever take on. As a trade target, Ethier is practically radioactive.
All the Dodgers can really hope for at this point is that a team like the Mets or Mariners gets so desperate for something resembling a competent outfield slugger that they agree to pay a fraction of his remaining contract and fork over a fringe prospect or two. If the Angels can find a deal like that for Vernon Wells, who makes Ethier look like Barry Bonds in comparison, surely the Dodgers can too. The question is why would they want to?
There is no doubt that the Dodgers need to clear the outfield logjam for Yasiel Puig, but they can accomplish the same thing by moving Ethier to the bench. In fact, that would be the smart thing to do considering that the Dodgers only called up Puig in the first place because their roster has been so badly ravaged by injuries. In a perfect world, Puig would share the outfield with Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford. But in reality, Kemp and Crawford have dealt with multiple injuries over the last few seasons and are from sure bets to stay healthy the rest of the way. Giving away a solid back-up for virtually nothing just doesn't make since considering the Dodgers' health problems. Saving some money would be nice for most teams, but we all know the Dodgers aren't most teams. Saving $10 million, $20 million or even $30 over the next four and a half seasons isn't going to make a lick of difference to how LA operates.
Much like the last two times, this attempt to trade Ethier is probably going to end up as a swing and a miss. Sorry, Ned. Strike three.