Andre Ethier Rumors

West Notes: Trumbo, Chacin, Angels, Ethier, Quentin

The dark side of Venezuelan baseball players reaping the riches of their profession is their family members, who decline to move permanently to the United States and remain in Venezuela, become targets of kidnappers. Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News chronicles the kidnapping attempt made on the brother of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus last year. Fortunately, Andrus provided his brother’s family with armed bodyguards and they thwarted the attempt after being fired upon and struck in their bulletproof vests. “This happens with everybody who has family there,” said Andrus. “It’s easy for them to kidnap people and ask for money. And everybody knows how much money the players make. They can Google it. It’s just not safe. You have to take steps. It was pretty shocking, for sure.

In other news and notes from baseball’s West divisions:

  • The Diamondbacks will not alleviate their outfield surplus by trading Mark Trumbo, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “We are not moving Trumbo,” GM Dave Stewart said. “Trumbo is a proven bat. Tough to move him for an unknown.” Stewart went even further with the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link) telling the scribe he will not trade any of his outfielders because he values the depth.
  • The Rockies are to be commended for releasing Jhoulys Chacin because a team must change direction if a player isn’t performing and the right-hander wasn’t, tweets Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
  • The Angels enter 2015 with the most financial flexibility they have had in four years, but will wait until mid-season to decide if or how to spend that payroll, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. The Angels’ most likely area of need is second base with Gonzalez naming the PhilliesChase Utley, the RedsBrandon Phillips, the DiamondbacksAaron Hill, and the MetsDaniel Murphy as possible targets.
  • The Dodgers‘ pitching depth is sorely being tested in the wake of the team shutting down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation, notes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.
  • Andre Ethier tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com he isn’t monitoring trade rumors online or with his agent and he isn’t counting the number of scouts in attendance at the Dodgers‘ Spring Training games. Ethier has said he is open to a trade and the club is reportedly willing to eat as much as half of the $56MM remaining on the outfielder’s contract to facilitate a swap, but have yet to find any takers.
  • Carlos Quentin asked to see some reps at first base in an attempt to earn more at-bats with the Padres, which could also make him more attractive to other teams, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
  • Peter Gammons of DailyGammons.com opines some have been cynical of San Diego’s offseason overhaul, but a healthy and productive Matt Kemp can become the poster person of this new age for the Padres.

NL Notes: Ethier, Taillon, Lester

The Dodgers are reportedly willing to pay half of Andre Ethier‘s salary in a trade, but it’s still hard to figure out where he might be able to find regular playing time, Eno Sarris of Fangraphs writes. Ethier is nearly 33 and profiles as a below-average player, and half of the $56MM remaining on his contract is still more than he would likely get on the open market. The Braves are one team who could conceivably use him. The Phillies might work if Ethier weren’t left-handed, and the Rangers could make sense if they didn’t already have so many corner outfield options. Overall, though, there shouldn’t be much of a market. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon is scheduled to face live batters next week for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, only has six career starts at Triple-A, and the Pirates tend to be cautious about promoting their prospects. Health permitting, though, he could make his big-league debut at some point in the second half of the season.
  • The signing of Jon Lester helped change the Cubs‘ reputation, Paul Sullivan of the Boston Herald writes. The Cubs will lean heavily on young players this season, but Lester says there’s no reason not to expect those players to win right out of the gate. “Time to grow up sometime,” says Lester. “When I played in Boston we didn’t have time to grow up. You just had to show up and play, and each year you’re expected to win.”

Dodgers Willing To Pay Half Of Ethier’s Contract In Trade

The Dodgers’ expensive outfield logjam was a well-known issue entering the offseason, and while the team’s new-look front office has already unloaded Matt Kemp in a trade with the Padres, Andre Ethier remains in Los Angeles. Ethier has voiced an openness to a trade so that the he can receive regular at-bats with another club, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is now reporting that the Dodgers are willing to pay as much as half of the $56MM remaining on Ethier’s contract to facilitate a deal.

Ethier, 33 in early April, is entering the third season of a five-year, $85MM extension signed with the club back in 2012. However, his role with the Dodgers has diminished greatly in recent years as his offensive production has tailed off. Ethier has never hit left-handed pitching particularly well, but his production versus southpaws has tailed off even further since 2012, and his numbers against righties declined in 2014 as well.

Last season, Ethier batted .249/.322/.370 overall and a marginally better .253/.325/.385 against opposite-handed pitching. He’s stated in the past the difficulty that he’s had transitioning to a part-time role, and it’s certainly possible that there’s something to that theory after having been an everyday player for much of his career prior to 2014. However, testing that theory out is an expensive proposition — particularly at a stage of the offseason when most potential trade partners have already exhausted their budget.

Nonetheless, a return to form at the plate for Ethier would make him worth that ~$9MM annual value; from 2008-13, Ethier’s OPS+ never dipped below 121. In that time, he batted a healthy .286/.363/471, averaging 20 homers per season in a pitcher-friendly home park. While he’s at an age when many hitters do begin to decline, the thought of him enjoying another few productive seasons is far from outlandish. He’s not likely to contribute a significant amount of defensive value, but a team with a corner outfield need could make some sense, particularly one in the American League.

Heyman notes that the Orioles have had discussions with the Dodgers about Ethier — we last mentioned those talks in early January — and he lists the Blue Jays as a fit on paper (though Toronto’s financial limitations have been an oft-discussed storyline this winter). I’d also point out that the Rangers have done little to address their left field situation this offseason, making them a match on paper as well.

The Dodgers project to enter the season with Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig in their outfield (assuming Pederson performs well this spring), and they also have Scott Van Slyke and Chris Heisey on the 40-man roster.



NL West Notes: Shields, Hatcher, Quentin, Ethier

Some might be worried about James Shields‘ mileage catching up to him but Padres GM A.J. Preller doesn’t agree with that assessment, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes.

You say, ‘OK, eight years with 200 innings pitched,’ and you can look at it both ways,” said Preller. “We debated it when we were talking about James, and obviously we’re betting that there are quite a few more years of that left…When you study it, there’s nothing definitive that says, ‘Once you turn 33 and have a certain amount of innings, that’s the end of the day.’ You look up and see guys — whether it’s Tim Hudson or Mark Buehrle or a lot of guys — and they’re still doing it. We think with James’ makeup and athleticism, he’s going to be a guy who’ll take the ball for us the next four years in San Diego.”

Here’s more from the NL West..

  • Reliever Chris Hatcher was more than a throw-in in the trade that sent Dee Gordon, Miguel Rojas and Dan Haren to the Marlins, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “He was a guy we targeted,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said. “To start off the season, he may be even more important than we anticipated.”  The 29-year-old converted catcher has less than 90 big league innings on his odometer, meaning that he won’t be arbitration eligible until 2017.
  • Padres veteran Carlos Quentin is trying out first base and that could give rival teams an opportunity to evaluate him and possibly get the ball rolling on a trade, Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes.  “It can increase value as a player to have versatility,” Quentin said. “It gives (the Padres) an idea of how I might fit in here, possibly. It gives other teams an idea of how I might fit in there. It can only be a good thing.”  Quentin also reiterated his openness to waiving his no-trade clause to move to an AL team.
  • Andre Ethier, who wants to start in 2015 whether it’s for the Dodgers or another team, doesn’t see himself as a threat to take the starting job away from Joc Pederson in center field. “I just don’t think that’s where I’m best suited to play every day,” said Ethier, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “If you’re 33 you get moved out of center field. You don’t get moved to center field. For me to say all of a sudden, I’m going to be an option in center field that’s a far reach and a far stretch.”

Andre Ethier Wants To Start, Open To Trade

Late last year, Andre Ethier made it known that he wanted to start, be it for the Dodgers or another club.  Months later, the veteran outfielder’s position hasn’t changed much and he says he expected to have been moved by now, as Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes.

I want the opportunity to play every day. My mind hasn’t changed from when I told you guys that a couple months ago,” Ethier said. “I felt like when I get a chance to play every day, I put up the numbers they ask of me. For some strange reason, it just happened that coming off a good 2012 season, in 2013 they took games away. You start to wonder why that happened. I feel like if I get a good full year in and get the at-bats, it starts to add up. It’s tough when you get 300 at-bats and you’re expected to hit 15 or 20 home runs.

Ethier’s playing time has decreased over the last couple of years, but his production has dipped as well.  Ethier, 33 in April, earned two consecutive All-Star appearances in 2010 and 2011.  In 2012, Ethier slashed .284/.351/.460 with 20 homers in 618 plate appearances and inked a lucrative extension over the summer.  In the last two years, however, Ethier has hit a combined .262/.344/.401.  Last season he saw a career-low 380 plate appearances thanks to the Dodgers’ outfield logjam.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said earlier this offseason that he wanted to break up that logjam by trading one or possibly two of the team’s notable outfielders.  He crossed Matt Kemp‘s name of the list in the deal with the Padres, but he was unable to find a quality deal for Ethier.  The Kemp trade required the Dodgers to eat a good amount of money, but Ethier is obviously a tougher sell given his recent performance and his own onerous contract.

Ethier is owed $56MM in total over the next three years when factoring in his salary plus the $2.5MM buyout attached to his 2018 club option (valued at $17.5MM).  Ethier, meanwhile, can lock in that 2018 salary with 550 plate appearances in 2017 or 1,100 PAs combined between 2017 and 18.

Ethier told reporters that he won’t do anything to “force” a trade, but he has made his dissatisfaction known and this isn’t the first instance of tension between him and the organization.  Back in 2011, Ethier inferred to T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times that the Dodgers were pushing him to play through a painful right knee injury.  As the outfielder’s production took a nosedive, then-GM Ned Colletti hinted that he was skeptical about whether Ethier’s injury was legitimate.

What am I supposed to be concerned about?,” the GM said of Ethier, who later scaled back his comments after meeting with manager Don Mattingly and Colletti. “That he has those numbers [since the All-Star break], that he’s hurt or contends he’s hurt?

The Dodgers talked a bit with the Orioles about Ethier earlier this winter and the Diamondbacks discussed a swap of Miguel Montero for the lefty-hitting outfielder before sending the catcher to the Cubs.  The holdup in the talks with Arizona was reportedly over the amount of money that the Dodgers would have had to kick in.


Orioles Have Discussed Andre Ethier With Dodgers

The Orioles have had discussions about Andre Ethier with the Dodgers, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  Baltimore is in search of a left-handed hitting outfielder and the 32-year-old (33 in April) could be a fit.

While Ethier has been prominently mentioned in trade rumors throughout the winter, it would be somewhat surprising to see the Dodgers part with him after dealing Matt Kemp just weeks ago.   Ethier was relegated to the bench last season and while he took it in stride, he made it clear to Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times in early December that he wanted to start in 2015 – whether that was in Los Angeles or elsewhere.  The former two-time All-Star hit just .249/.322/.370 with four homers in 380 plate appearances last season.

As Kubatko notes, the Orioles checked on Kemp earlier this winter but decided against pursuing him due to his contract and health issues and the Dodgers’ insistence on getting Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in return.  Ethier would not require that same kind of haul, though he also comes with a hefty contract.  He’s owed $53.5MM over the next three more years and has a $17.5MM vesting option for 2018 with a $2.5 million buyout, adding up to a full $56MM guarantee.

While there is some degree of interest in Ethier, Kubatko says that the Orioles apparently still rate Colby Rasmus as the most likely possibility of their left-handed hitting outfield targets.  The O’s also have interest in fellow free agent Nori Aoki.  Baltimore reportedly has interest in 41-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, but Kubatko hears he’d be a tough sell for some in the organization.


Dodgers Notes: Haren, Shields, Santana, Peavy

There has been much speculation about Dan Haren‘s role in the impending six-player trade between the Dodgers and Marlins, as Haren has openly said that he’d rather retire than pitch anywhere but for one of the two Los Angeles teams.  Angels GM Jerry Dipoto shot down speculation that the Marlins could flip Haren to his team, telling reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) that his team wasn’t trading for Haren.

As we wait for either of today’s two blockbuster Dodgers trades to be finalized, here’s some more news from Chavez Ravine…

  • There are rumors around the Winter Meetings that the Dodgers are making these big moves to position themselves to sign James Shields, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports (Twitter link).
  • The rumored Andre Ethier-for-Miguel Montero swap with the Diamondbacks fell apart because of how much money the Dodgers would have had to pay, Saxon reports (via Twitter).  Arizona ended up dealing Montero to the Cubs yesterday.
  • Also from Saxon, the Dodgers haven’t made any inquiries about Ervin Santana.
  • The Dodgers have been talking to other free agent pitchers, however, including Jake Peavy, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets.
  • Rumors of a Matt Kemp deal to the Padres “has legs,” a source tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  The two sides have made some progress but nothing is official yet.  Yasmani Grandal would be the main piece coming back from San Diego and Heyman hears the Dodgers have also asked for pitchers Joe Ross and Zach Eflin (though Heyman isn’t sure if both would be included if the deal happened.)

West Notes: Kemp, Cabrera, Kendrick, Upton

With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego, this could be the week the Dodgers finally deal from their glut of outfielders, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers would prefer to hang onto Matt Kemp, according to Shaikin, but Major League players are not being offered for either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports the Mariners were close to a deal for Kemp with Seattle paying roughly half of the $107 million remaining on his salary over the next five years, but things fell apart when the Dodgers insisted on the inclusion of either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. In a second article, Dutton lists the Padres and the Orioles as the Mariners’ primary competition for Kemp, with Shaikin adding the Giants are a possibility, if they fail to sign Chase Headley. With Nelson Cruz now in Seattle, Dutton opines the Mariners’ interest in Kemp will depend on what other offers the Dodgers receive. Those other offers may not be to the Dodgers’ liking, as Shaikin notes the Braves (Justin Upton and Evan Gattis), Red Sox (Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig), and Phillies (Marlon Byrd) also have right-handed power bats available to trade.

Elsewhere in baseball’s West divisions:

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the constant rumors that come with running a major market team are “comical,” but he doesn’t necessarily mind it, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Misinformation can be a powerful tool,” Friedman said.
  • The Mariners are reluctant to part with their young pitching to acquire an outfield bat, according to Dutton. “That’s a little bit of a dangerous road,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “You look at our pitching staff, and when you analyze it, a couple of those young starters didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the Mariners are very serious about their pursuit of Melky Cabrera. Last week, it was reported the M’s are believed to be willing to offer something similar to the four-year, $57MM deal that they used to sign Cruz.
  • In a separate tweet, Rosenthal posits the Angels are reluctant to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick because of offensive concerns including uncertainity about Josh Hamilton, an unsettled DH situation, and no clear backup catcher.
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) the Giants and Reds are great fits for Justin Upton, but neither match up well with the Braves and may need to involve a third team to swing a deal.
  • Olney also tweets the Astros continue to pursue closer David Robertson and his most lucrative offer might come from Houston.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post there has been interest in catcher Wilin Rosario, but Colorado “could very easily go into the season with Wilin.

Quick Hits: Upton, Robertson, Headley, Ethier, Mets Shortstop

Justin Upton might be the best hitter on the market, but that’s not the only reason teams want him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports. With one year and $14.5MM remaining on his contract, Upton is a financial steal. If a team acquires him this offseason, they’ll also be looking at a free draft pick when he declines their qualifying offer. He’s in his physical prime at 27 years old, and he’s a former number one overall pick. Heyman lists the Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Orioles, and Padres as possible destinations. We can expect the Braves to receive a notable player in return – after all, they netted Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden.

  • The Yankees would like to re-sign Chase Headley and David Robertson, reports Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. However, New York refuses to go overboard, which may let other clubs swoop in on the pair of free agents. Headley is said to have a four-year, $65MM offer on the table, and the Giants are reportedly “getting aggressive.” It’s unknown at this time if San Francisco is the team that offered the $65MM deal. The Yankees aren’t expected to value Headley that highly. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays supposedly “love” Robertson, and the Astros are in on him too. After New York signed Andrew Miller last week, there is less urgency to sign another relief ace.
  • A proposed swap of Andre Ethier and Miguel Montero fell through, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Diamondbacks would have received Ethier and catcher Tim Federowicz for Montero and lower level prospects. The Dodgers would have also kicked in money to help balance the extra $16MM guaranteed to Ethier over the next three seasons. Rosenthal lists a couple reasons the deal may have fallen through. DBacks owner Ken Kendrick is a fan of Montero, and Arizona may be hesitant to trade with their former GM Josh Byrnes on the other side of the negotiations (Byrnes is now the Dodgers Sr. VP of Baseball Operations).
  • Shortstop tops the Mets wish list at the winter meetings, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. While club officials keep saying they’re comfortable with Wilmer Flores, an upgrade would be welcomed. Unfortunately for the Mets, there aren’t many options available. The Mariners have a couple shortstops, but they have talked about using Brad Miller in the outfield. Other trade targets like Alexei Ramirez, Starlin Castro, and Troy Tulowitzki strike me as unlikely to move. As we know, the free agent market is bleak. Many clubs prefer Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie at second base. The next best options, Stephen Drew and Everth Cabrera, have a lot to prove before a team trusts them as a starter.

NL Notes: Markakis, Ethier, Cubs, Rosario, Gattis

New Braves outfielder Nick Markakis is leaning toward undergoing neck surgery to repair a bulging disc, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The possibility of the surgery, which could come with a recovery time as long as 12 weeks, was known to the Braves before signing him, Rosenthal adds. The neck issue is believed by some to be one of the reasons that the Orioles were reluctant to go beyond three years for Markakis. Even with a 12-week recovery, Markakis would seemingly be ready to go for most of Spring Training. The Braves are confident that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, per Rosenthal.

Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…

  • An executive from a team with interest in trading for Matt Kemp tells ESPN’s Jayson Stark that he’s still unconvinced that the Dodgers will actually move Kemp (Twitter link). Stark’s source feels that Andre Ethier is “still the guy they want to move.” Earlier today, it was reported that Ethier has communicated to the Dodgers that he prefers to be a starter next season, even if it means with another club. Ethier took his loss of playing time in stride this past season and has drawn praise for handling it quite well.
  • The Cubs are still looking for help behind the plate, president Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. On the one hand, Epstein praised incumbent Welington Castillo, noting that he does a “nice job” of many things and has a promising future. In particular, Epstein praised Castillo’s throwing and blocking, though he noted that framing and receiving are areas to improve. He also added that, “…catching is one of the few areas on the field where we can add some veteran leadership — in the near term, anyway — and not block a potential impact player.” The allusion to veteran leadership could imply a backup catcher, though Rogers also speculates on adding someone like Miguel Montero to platoon with Castillo and receive the lion’s share of playing time.
  • In an excellent analysis for GammonsDaily.com, David Golebiewski examines whether or not trade candidates Evan Gattis (Braves) and Wilin Rosario (Rockies) should remain behind the plate or only be of interest to teams who can move them off the position. Golebiewski notes that Gattis is a perhaps surprisingly competent pitch-framer, though he struggles to block balls in the dirt and is below-average at catching base stealers. Rosario, on the other hand, averages -12 runs in pitch-framing and -5 runs in blocking per season. Golebiewski feels that Gattis can follow a career path similar to Mike Napoli, providing a few solid seasons behind the plate before his large 6’4″, 260-pound frame causes him to move for another pitcher. Regarding Rosario, he offers a much bleaker take: “No matter where he suits up in 2015, it’s time to hide his mask and chest plate.”