While nothing is official, it seems like the Dodgers could move an outfielder in the offseason. Which one should it be?
The Dodgers have had a strange mix of too many outfielder and too few outfielders in recent years. Between Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke, they should be able to field a good outfield in every game. However, last year Alex Guerrero played 27 games in the outfield, Chris Heisey played in 33. Two of the five real outfielders couldn’t stay healthy, one hit a hard slump after a great first half, and one is useless against lefties. Enrique Hernandez split time between the outfield and infield and was great in both roles, but the Dodgers outfield had some question marks last year.
Despite these question marks, the Dodgers are rumored to be shopping some outfielders. Puig’s name has been mentioned in trade talks pretty consistently for the last two years, many fans want Crawford gone, and even Pederson’s name started popping up on Twitter recently (as complete speculation, not actual rumors). The Dodgers and Indians have emerged as potential trade partners, where the Dodgers would give the Indians an outfielder that they desperately need and the Indians would give the Dodgers a starter, which they desperately need.
It really seems like any of the Dodgers’ outfielders could be on the move in the coming months. Of course, they could all remain on the team and this post could all be for naught, but let’s think logically about which outfielder could be on the move.
I’m a huge fan of selling high and buying low. Not so huge on selling low and buying high. Moving Puig or Joc, at this point, would likely be selling relatively low. Puig only played 79 games and never really got in rhythm for too long before injuring himself again. He’s still immensely talented and on a very team friendly contract, so unless they can get huge value for him, they shouldn’t trade him (off field issues taken into account).
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Same goes with Pederson, who despite a consistently low batting average, put together a great first half and a terrible second half. His struggles started right before the All-Star break, and he never really got his power stroke back. He won’t be 24 until April and still walks a lot and plays good defense, so trading him also seems nonsensical.
Unfortunately, a couple of the other outfielders probably don’t have a lot of trade value and won’t bring back a big name. Crawford is still good when healthy, but he’s pretty much never healthy and is owed over $42 million over the next two seasons. If, by some miracle, he can stay healthy, he gives the Dodgers the top-of-the-order threat they need and can still be a serviceable offensive outfielder and a terrifying defensive outfielder.
I’m not really sure how much he figures into next season’s roster, but it still might be difficult to find a suitor for Guerrero. He can’t really play defense and while he tore the cover off the ball for the first two months of last season, he failed to adjust and ended the season horribly. Add on a clause in his contract that makes him a free agent after any year that he’s traded and another clause that gives him the right to veto any move to the minor leagues, and how can any sane person argue that Ned Colletti was better than this current front office. His trade value is about as limited as it could be, but an AL team willing to take a flier on a DH might come calling.
Van Slyke had a down year last year, but is still a really solid player overall with surprisingly good defense in the outfield and is a perfectly capable platoon player. He also brings the ability to play first base and is probably the only real backup to Adrian Gonzalez, who’s only getting older. Re-signing Chase Utley could fill that void, but SVS is cheap and talented enough to have value, whether that be with the Dodgers or another team.
October 9, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) before playing against the New York Mets in game one of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Kiké probably has the most trade value, but it would also be terrible for the Dodgers to move him. If they don’t find another second baseman, he and Jose Peraza could probably split reps at second and keep the Dodgers afloat. I love everything about Hernandez (talent, personality, versatility, contract), and he’s the type of player every team should try to retain.
This leaves us with the longest tenured Dodger, Andre Ethier. He had a bounceback year last year and I’m honestly shocked he didn’t get more consideration for Comeback Player of the Year. He went from a guy that couldn’t be traded for Miguel Montero last year to arguably the most valuable offensive player on the Dodgers last year.
Everything I wrote in that last paragraph makes him the ideal trade candidate. Ethier is entering his 10th year of service time with the Dodgers, meaning at some point in April his 10-5 Rights will kick in. This gives him veto power of any trade, which means the Dodgers are stuck paying him about $35 million over the next two years with a vesting option for the 2018 season.
His resurgence also makes him an ideal sell-high candidate, as his value will likely never be higher. He’ll be 34 in April, still can’t hit lefties and is on a terrible contract, so he won’t be the headliner of a blockbuster deal. But he could be a great sell candidate for a team in need of outfield help. Off the top of my head, the Angels and Indians fit that criteria pretty well. There were Ethier for C.J. Wilson rumors flying around last year before Wilson’s season ended with elbow surgery right around the trade deadlines. Ethier has long been a fan favorite and most of the fanbase would probably hate losing him, but it makes a lot of sense to move him.
The Dodgers are likely to be extremely busy, and if there’s one thing this front office has taught me in their year at the helm, it’s that nobody really knows what they’re thinking and that moves will come out of nowhere. They aren’t always exactly honest, as last year they denied shopping Dee Gordon like a week before trading him. With the winter meetings coming up on December 7, the hot stove will likely heat up in the coming weeks.