Free Agent Stock Watch: Andre Ethier

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier can hit. That much cannot be disputed; the sweet-swinging left-handed hitter owns a career line of .291/.365/.481. However, his troubles with the injury bug raise some interesting questions as the 30-year-old commences his walk year before a potential foray into free agency.

After debuting in Los Angeles in 2006, Ethier improved steadily over each of the next two seasons before breaking out as a premier slugger in 2009, when he ripped 31 homers to go with a .272/.361/.508 line. If Ethier had followed up that campaign with a couple more like it in 2010 and 2011, he'd be in line for a monster contract right about now. Instead, though, he spent time on the DL both years, and though his production was competent when he was on the field, it wasn't on par with his breakout '09.

Rumors about a potential extension for Ethier have kicked around for awhile, but it doesn't appear talks have gotten too serious, and with the Dodgers' ownership situation still being sorted out, it could take some time before the team has its finances in order to the extent that it could consider a long-term extension for one of its cornerstone players.

In the meanwhile, Ethier's off to a fast start this season, and he's made it a point to say he's focused on remaining healthy and productive. The latter isn't an issue, but the former might be, and it could very well determine just how big of a payday he's in store for this offseason (or before then, if he signs an extension).

Another year derailed by injuries, and Ethier could have to settle for a short-term deal in order to reestablish his stock, but if he can recapture his health and performance of three years ago, he could be looking at a windfall. I wouldn't go so far as to say he'll secure anything near the seven years and $126MM the Nationals lavished on Jayson Werth two offseasons ago, but one never knows; it only takes one team.

Among the high-end talents in the upcoming crop of free-agent right fielders, Ethier will be joined by Nick Swisher of the Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, and Torii Hunter of the Angels, all useful players in their own ways but none without question marks — not unlike Ethier himself. Ethier, though, is probably the best bet of that lot to land a big contract based on his age and productivity. Advanced defensive metrics don't especially like Ethier's defense, and his durability woes are well documented, but a big walk year has a funny way of obscuring past sins — think of Jose Reyes after last season.

29 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Andre Ethier Leave a Reply

  1. Tony DiQuattro 3 years ago

    I’d like to see one of these on Melky Cabrera

  2. wickedkevin 3 years ago

    “Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier can hit. That much cannot be disputed” Unless facing lefties…

    • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

      Vs. lefties so far in 2012: .364/.462/.636/1.098

      • wickedkevin 3 years ago

         And a career avg of .244 against them.  But hey, if you wanna use your sample size over mine, then that’s cool too!

        • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          Hey, but if you want to ignore 2006 and 2007, when he did very much the same thing, and focus on his injury years of 2010 and 2011, then that’s cool too!

          • LD4387 3 years ago

            You’re cherry picking.


          • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            Ah, no. Simply pointing out that he’s demonstrated the ability to hit lefties. He really struggled especially against lefties after the broken finger and the bad knee. So let’s see how he does without having to fight either problem before we decide who is “cherry picking.”

          • LD4387 3 years ago

            He’s 30 and the career sample size is plenty. Even in his best year, 2009, with great health, he put up: .194 .283 .345 .629

          • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

            “he’s demonstrated the ability to hit lefties”

            …in small samples. in other words, you are cherry picking

          • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

            how can someone quoting career numbers be ignoring 2 years of the players career? you are just grasping at straws

            they aren’t even straws worth grasping at, either. in 2007 ethier posted a wRC of 86 (league average is 100) against lefties. the only time he has ever had any measure of success against them was in 2006, more than 5 years ago, in only 77 at-bats

            but sure, we’re the ones ignoring facts

  3. johnsilver 3 years ago

    My money is on Swisher getting the better deal for obvious reasons.. Better hitter for a longer period of time. Ethier is 1 year younger and is a little better with the glove, but he just doesn’t get on base as well as swish and has been dropping offensively since ’09. Not nearly as bad as another over rated player.. BJ Upton, but still dropping.

  4. BitLocker 3 years ago

    It only takes a mystery team to up the bidding war. Eithier’s biggest competition will be Swisher. 

  5. BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    Correct me if I’ve forgotten something, but it seems to me that Ethier has been on the DL only twice in his career, and the first time was for a broken finger. The knee problem he suffered last year may be a chronic condition (no evidence either way yet) but I’m pretty sure broken fingers are not chronic conditions. So it’s a real stretch to claim that Ethier has an “injury bug.” I’m sure any team bidding on his services is not going to worry much about him breaking any more fingers.

    • southpawryno 3 years ago

       Since ’09 Baseball Prospectus has 12 injuries reported for Ethier, which is a considerable amount. Your perception that his first two years out weigh his career splits against left-handers is rather ignorant. Less than 200 ABs does not mean more than 500 ABs; especially when they precede his years of higher success (in which he’d be paid for).

      • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

        What 12 injuries? He has been on the DL only twice that I can recall or that anyone else can seem to recall. And I did not say that his first two seasons “outweigh” anything. What I am saying is that his first two seasons (and his third, in which his splits weren’t dramatic) added to his current performance against them suggests that he isn’t nearly as hopeless against lefties as a lot of people assume. I would want to evaluate him for an entire season as a mature, healthy player before drawing that conclusion, or any conclusion.

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

           I’m with you on not thinking any kind of injury will be an issue towards him getting a contract this off season.

          Think after the season that Swish and then Ethier will be the 2 clear cut FA targets for OF and then BJ Upton the distant 3rd, or how I would target them. upton’s career offensive performance has been on a slide for 4 straight seasons, but someone will give him a LT deal based on that old “never tapped” tools anyway and get burned.

          Ethier will be hard to figure out exactly how long he’ll get for sure, same with Swish, but have a feeling one will sign fast and set the market for the other.

  6. Jeremiah Graves 3 years ago

    If I recall there was a lot of talk last year about Ethier wanting to go to Boston. An outfield of Crawford/Ellsbury/Ethier with Pedroia/Youk/Gonzo in the infield and Ortiz at DH sounds pretty much unstoppable on paper, right?!

    Theo probably would have gone bonkers for that deal, not sure where Cherington sits after one mostly quiet offseason.

    My guess is that Ethier gets an extension with LA or moves to Boston.

    Dark horse: Houston signs him for hella bucks to be the RF for a few years and an eventual 1B/DH guy.

    • I know, everybody loves Youk, but…

    • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

      lineup doesn’t need another lefty and fenway’s right field would likely expose ethier’s significant defensive limitations

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

         You don’t want another JD Drew signed to another high $$$ contract on the downside of their career IOW?

        Me either..

        • I think what you meant was…

          *puts glasses on*

          Me Ethier.


    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      Boston actually has several OF at High A ball to AAA who are very good prospects and at least one of them should make it. They can find someone on a 1-2 year deal, just like they stumbled onto Cody Ross and not gamble on any more Drew like deals again.

      Brentz, Jacobs, Kalish. They are not even certain where top guys like Vitek and Bogaerts will eventually play.

      Can’t see this team going out and giving iffy people like this who will be 30+ YO with questionable offensive trajectories multi year big deals. They have a few people on the team they will be thinking of locking up 1st LT who are far more stable, younger and more important to the team.

  7. Capoman 3 years ago

    If Ethier puts up good numbers this year keep him. He’s worth it. If not then it’s up for discussion. Hopefully everybody’s gonna have good years not that McCourt’s gone.

  8. BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    A funny debate. Whenever I’ve cited a player’s career stats as a reasonable way of predicting how he is likely to perform in the future, I always get argued back with what he did last year. Nobody ever thought that was cherry picking. Anyhow, the message the stats tell me about Ethier is that he has handled lefties in the past and that maybe it would be worth evaluating that ability in a healthy season.

  9.  Ethier won the Gold Glove award in ’11……what are you talking about?

  10. Cute, but… gold gloves mean nothing except who didn’t make mistakes on the balls they were able to get to. 2008, 9, and 10 his UZR/150 was -10,6, -14.2, and -20.9 respectively. Last year he picked it up a bit, at 6.8, but it was a smaller sample size. For his career, he’s a -6.1. 

    Being an ASU alumni has no bearing on how he plays in the MLB, I don’t think. And what, pray tell, is a full scale ballplayer?

  11. ellisburks 3 years ago

    Gold Gloves are meaningless. They are a popularity contest not an accurate judge of defencive prowess.

  12. ellisburks 3 years ago

    Come on! Gold Gloves must mean something otherwise Jeter wouldn’t have so many of them!

  13. Infield Fly 3 years ago

    Sarcasm received (but could I get a barf bag anyway please?).

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