Andre Ethier, Still Here


The Hot Stove is still simmering, and the Dodgers are surely not done making moves to revamp their 2015 roster. On the final day of 2014, the Dodgers finally announced they had signed Brett Anderson and designated for assignment slick gloved Erisbel Arruebarrena. While I thoroughly enjoy watching Erisbel’s spectacular defense at short, I can understand that the Dodgers may want to shed the $16 million from the payroll that is still owed the Cuban infielder with Corey Seager in the wings. Arruebarrena may well end up in Triple-A Oklahoma City anyways if no other club claims him off waivers, and I’m hoping that his Dodger career won’t be cut short so suddenly.

More on Erisbel later, but for now I’d like to remind everyone that Andre Ethier is still on the team.

The ironic notion to my tweet during the MLB winter meetings, is that it may end up being true. While we have hashed out possible outfield configurations for next year minus the departed Matt Kemp and including prospect Joc Pederson, it could be very possible that the Dodger outfield will be Carl Crawford in left field, Yasiel Puig in center field and Andre Ethier in right field.

Of course you know that I’m all for Yasiel Puig staying in center field, but I am also looking forward to Joc Pederson getting a shot at a starting role whether it be in center field or a corner outfield position. While I don’t think the Dodgers would necessarily start Andre Ethier in center field anymore with Joc and Yasiel at their disposal, they could very well give more playing time to the veteran and long-tenured Dodger Andre Ethier over the non-established Pederson next year.

Of course this would all be moot if the Dodgers do in fact move either Crawford or Ethier this winter, but then again, that hasn’t happened over multiple off seasons filled with trade rumors surrounding Dre. I have said before, that when the Dodgers handed Maggie Ethier flowers upon the day they re-signed Ethier to his new contract in 2012, he would be in Dodger Blue for years to come.

Sep 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier (16) celebrates after defeating the San Francisco Giants 9-1 to clinch the NL West Division Championship at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Ethier will be entering his tenth season as a Dodger, and even though he has declined as far as offensive output, he will always be a favorite current Dodger of mine. His 30-game hitting streak and his clutch hitting may have been in the past, but he still has some value for the team even if it is on the bench. He can play all three outfield positions, and there’s no reason to think that he can’t rebound from his down season last year at least marginally.

But Stacie, $18 million for a bench player is not a reasonable option. I understand. Yet, for the Dodgers it may be the their only option if they can’t find a suitable trade partner to work with in order to unload Ethier before Opening Day.

During Ned Colletti’s regime I didn’t think the Dodgers would move Ethier. I was right. Now with Andrew Friedman in the driver’s seat, I can see it likely happening. Cutting players has been a pricey expenditure this offseason for the Dodgers, and they continue to shed deadweight and less than successful players from the roster in order to gain strength in their defense, roster flexibility and long-term goals.

I always thought Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp would be part of the Dodgers long-term plan, but Andrew Freidman and Farhan Zaidi have rewritten the strategies and Blueprint for the future of the team within weeks of their hiring. I understand that these moves are for the greater good of the team, but I’m not ashamed to say that I will be sad to see Andre Ethier go.

While Ethier and his wife Maggie were busy dedicating their Learning Center at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles in early December, the outfielder stated his desire to be a starter for the Dodgers or another team.

"“I’d rather play every day and help this team win — or whatever team it is — to the best of my ability. I feel I can, if given a role. As I stand here today, I’m preparing every day to be a starting outfielder for the Dodgers, until I’m told otherwise. I’m not changing my mind about that. It’s probably going to be a little less wanting to take the same role as I did last year.”"

I think any player in his position would feel the same. Taking a seat and watching your team play without being on the field contributing is a hard pill to swallow. Accepting a role as a backup and not a starter must be a tough transition for any aging player, and I admire Ethier’s determination. It wasn’t so long ago that he was winning games with late inning homeruns and walking off with the hearts of Los Angeles.

Then again, 2009 was a long time ago. The Dodgers are not the same team any longer. Even Ethier himself admitted that things didn’t work out last year for the team, and they needed to go in a different direction. Perhaps that means that Ethier and the Dodgers will part ways this winter, and the Dodgers will go with youth over sentiment.

The problem is that Ethier had arguably the worst season of his career last year, and he only hit .249 with 4 homeruns and 42 RBIs over 341 at-bats. The Dodgers still owe him $56 million, and in order to trade him they would have to absorb a big chunk of that figure. The Dodgers have already moved on from Matt Kemp, and they will pay San Diego $18 million of the $32 million owed to Kemp next season. While the new front office doesn’t balk at the cost of paying players not to play for them, there has to be a limit.

Andrew Friedman understood why Ethier made his desire to start public,

"“I get it,” Friedman said. “I think all guys that play this game want to play as much as they possibility can. I get it. I totally get it from his perspective.”"

Friedman is non-committal when it comes to starting Joc Pederson in center field, and he has not expressed an urgent desire to move more than one outfielder this offseason. With Spring Training approaching, the Dodgers may still have to hang on to Ethier this upcoming season if they aren’t able to make a move.

I’m still rooting for Captain Clutch, and whether he is playing for the Dodgers or another team in 2015, he shall always be a favorite.