Andre Ethier has been the most oft-mentioned trade candidate for the Dodgers recently, in part, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link), because Los Angeles is telling teams with interest in Yasiel Puig that Puig is not available at this time. Puig isn’t without his red flags, as he’s facing potential disciplinary action in connection with domestic violence allegations, is coming off a down season and has long come with questions about his clubhouse persona. Of course, even Puig’s “down” season saw him bat a solid .255/.322/.436 with 11 homers in 311 plate appearances, and he remains just 25 years of age with a considerable track record of elite production under his belt. Puig’s contract guarantees him $19.5MM over the next three seasons, although it also allows him to opt into arbitration once he is eligible next offseason, so it’s perhaps likely that he’ll instead go that route, as his earning capacity figures to be greater going down the arbitration path.
A few more Dodgers-related notes…
- Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi was a guest on High Heat with Chris Russo on the MLB Network today (video link) and discussed a number of topics regarding the upcoming season. In regard to left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu, who underwent shoulder surgery and missed all of the 2015 season, Zaidi stopped short of declaring that he’d be ready for Opening Day but did say the Korean southpaw’s recovery is progressing as expected. Zaidi sounded hopeful that Ryu would indeed be available, but as the GM noted, it’s impossible to project a player’s return from that type of procedure before seeing him pitch in a game setting.
- Zaidi deflected the notion that the team is looking to move Andre Ethier, stating that, “Right now, he’s a really important part of our team,” mentioning Ethier’s quite-productive numbers from the 2015 season (albeit in a platoon capacity). Zaidi acknowledged that the Dodgers have quite a bit of outfield depth and stressed that earlier in the offseason, the team was open to various scenarios involving a number of their players. “But right now, we have nothing going on,” Zaidi continued. “…We expect [Ethier] to be here in 2016.”
- Howie Kendrick, whose two-year, $20MM contract with the Dodgers became official today, will see time not only at second base but also at third base in 2016, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, on today’s conference call. “He expressed a willingness to play different spots,” said Friedman of Kendrick. “That’s when things kind of accelerated.” Friedman said there could be as many as 1400 at-bats to go around between Kendrick, Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez, with each expected to play multiple positions. As Shaikin notes, Kendrick’s willingness to play third base is of particular importance given Justin Turner’s offseason knee surgery and the fact that Turner has never played more than 126 games in a season before.
- Interestingly, Shaikin adds his own bit about the recent trade talks between the Dodgers and White Sox, reporting that the Sox actually approached the Dodgers about Puig, but the Dodgers instead tried to sell the Sox on trades involving Ethier and Carl Crawford. At this point, there’s very little traction between the two sides, a source tells Shaikin.
- Kendrick and his agent, Larry Reynolds, were among those that spoke to Nightengale for a full column on the problems caused by the current qualifying offer system. Reynolds, an agent for 32 years, told Nightengale that Kendrick’s free agency was the most difficult of any throughout his career representing players. Kendrick himself expressed surprise at the lack of interest in him: “Nobody wanted to give up that draft pick. It was a shocker.”