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Andre Ethier Rumors
Months ago, the Angels exercised their 2016 option on GM Jerry Dipoto’s contract, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. That news had not been reported until now. The option is the last one on Dipoto’s original contract, a three-year deal that included two options. That the organization has not extended Dipoto to this point might or might not be notable. The Angels have not always quite lived up to lofty expectations in the last few seasons, and Dipoto’s tenure has been shaped in part by an unfortunate contract and ugly dispute with Josh Hamilton (which, to be fair, were both at least partially the fault of owner Arte Moreno), but the team is coming off a 98-win 2014 campaign. Here are more notes from the West Coast.
- Outfielder Andre Ethier has reestablished himself this year after a winter in which the Dodgers couldn’t trade him, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. “I don’t think anybody wanted me either,” says Ethier. “It takes two to tango like in a lot of things. … At the same time, maybe they knew what they were doing. Maybe the reason it didn’t happen was because they were asking more than other teams were willing to give.” Now, Ethier is in the midst of a resurgent .287/.369/.506 season, and Plunkett points out that, as the dollars remaining on Ethier’s contract continue to shrink (he’s currently owed about $49MM more through 2017, including a buyout for 2018), it might become a lot easier for the Dodgers to trade him than it was last winter.
- Giants executives Brian Sabean and Lee Elder were on hand to watch today’s Reds/Cubs game in Chicago, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes (all Twitter links). As Rosenthal points out, the natural conclusion is that Sabean and Elder were in town to watch Reds starter Johnny Cueto — Cueto will be a sought-after trade target this summer, and the Giants need rotation help. It could be, though, that the pair were at Wrigley for other reasons.
- Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is headed to the disabled list with wrist tendinitis, as Rosenthal tweets. Pence has not played since June 2, so he should be able to return within a week if he’s ready. To take Pence’s place on the active roster, the Giants selected the contract of righty Mike Broadway today after promoting an outfielder, Jarrett Parker, earlier this week.
The Cubs aren’t concerned with Jon Lester‘s issues throwing to first base, writes the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo in his weekly Sunday Notes column. “I think it’s being a little overplayed right now, quite frankly,” said manager Joe Maddon to Cafardo. “…I’d much prefer he worries more about getting his fastball where he wants and his cutter where he wants and all the normal pitching things. … I don’t want to make this an issue, because it’s not for me at all.” Still, Cafardo notes, it is an issue that the Red Sox worked to correct for years with little success. The Cardinals exploited the issue in Lester’s first outing by swiping four bases against him, but as Cafardo notes, not every team will go that route. One AL scout told Cafardo: “I always included in my reports about the throwing, but our team chose not to do anything about it.”
Here’s more from Cafardo’s column…
- Newly minted Giants GM Bobby Evans tells Cafardo that he doesn’t envision his team pursuing another starting pitcher despite early injuries to Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. The Giants feel that Peavy, who avoided the DL and is slated to pitch today, is healthy. The team is also not anticipating that Cain’s elbow injury, which did require a trip to the 15-day DL, will be a major issue.
- Cody Ross was recently released by the D-Backs and signed with the A’s, and Cafardo looks back on Ross’ best season — his 2012 campaign with the Red Sox — and notes that Boston offered Ross a two-year deal to remain with the team. Ross, however, found a three-year, $26MM contract in Arizona. Injuries turned that deal into a bust for the Snakes, but Ross will hope to reestablish himself in green and gold.
- The Rockies will likely have plenty of suitors for Troy Tulowitzki this summer if they slide to the cellar of the NL West, but one AL GM tells Cafardo that it’s difficult to envision a trade: “There would be a lot of work to get that done. The money remaining on his salary [$110 million] and the player acquisition cost. Not as easy as it seems. The Rockies need to get a ton for him and I doubt they’ll pick up the money.”
- Earlier this week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Tigers have been monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts, and Cafardo hears the same, adding that it “wouldn’t be shocking” if Detroit pulled the trigger on a deal.
- Much like the Giants, the Twins have taken a hit to their rotation early in the year following Ervin Santana‘s suspension and Ricky Nolasco‘s injury, but after talking with their front office personnel, Cafardo gets the impression that they’ll give opportunities to young starters rather than pursue an established upgrade. Trevor May gets the first crack, but Cafardo lists Alex Meyer and Jose Berrios as other candidates.
- The Dodgers are still “all ears” about potential Andre Ethier trades and are willing to eat some of the $56MM on the three years remaining on his contract, but there have been no bites to this point.
Giants right-hander Juan Gutierrez has elected not to exercise the April 1 opt-out clause in his contract, MLBTR has learned (Twitter links). Gutierrez has been slowed this spring by shoulder inflammation but is healthy now and touched 93 mph the last time he threw. Gutierrez has another opt-out in his contract for June 1 and will, in the meantime, hope to find an opportunity with the big league club. The 31-year-old Gutierrez logged 63 2/3 innings in the Giants’ bullpen last year, posting a 3.96 ERA with 6.2 K/9, a career-best 2.3 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate, averaging a strong 93.5 mph on his fastball.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- Andre Ethier was hit on the elbow by a pitch from Carlos Rodon today, but x-rays came back negative, writes ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon. Additionally, he notes that contractual issues surrounding Ethier won’t keep the Dodgers from going with Joc Pederson in center field. Saxon also says that the Dodgers won’t keep Pederson in the Minors to delay his free agency, although his situation is different than that of Kris Bryant, whose demotion to the Minors has caused quite a stir; Pederson already has 28 days of Major League service and would need to spend nearly six weeks in the Minors at this point to give L.A. an extra year of control. Manager Don Mattingly has hinted that Pederson will get the nod, though nothing has been officially announced yet, Saxon adds. “Joc’s kind of checked off all the boxes,” said Mattingly.
- The Padres gave veteran catcher Wil Nieves a $100K retention bonus rather than adding him to the big league roster or releasing him, but he’s not a lock to be their backup catcher, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While it may be difficult to find a definitive upgrade outside the organization this close to the regular season, a source tells Lin that the search could go right down to the wire before Sunday’s deadline to set the 25-man roster. An out of options player such as Austin Romine of the Yankees would make some degree of sense, and the Orioles have quite a few experienced catchers, including Steve Clevenger and Ryan Lavarnway. Those names, however, are merely my own speculation.
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 Phillies‘ Chase Utley, the Reds‘ Brandon Phillips, the Diamondbacks‘ Aaron Hill, and the Mets‘ Daniel 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.
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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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.)