For the better part of a decade, Andre Ethier has been a big component of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup. However, as of late, the 32-year-old slugger has been in a slump, he had a down 2014 season, and he’s hoping he has a bounce-back upcoming season. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Ethier is owed a lot of money over the next four seasons, $71 million to be exact. Although Ethier has only hit over .300 twice in his career, what the Dodgers loved about him was his ability to get on base. Ethier had an OBP over .350 eight years in a row before this past season, where he posted an OBP of .322, he is only 32, but this could be a cause for concern for the Dodgers moving forward.
Ethier has stated that he wants to be a starter in Los Angeles. As it’s shaping up even with Matt Kemp‘s departure to San Diego, Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig will likely be the starters in the Dodgers outfield. Unless a trade happens, which is unlikely, Ethier will very likely be coming off the bench for the Dodgers this season.
So, what should the Dodgers do with Ethier? Well, their options are very limited, but there are still some options. Although Pederson had a great year in Triple-A last season, there’s no guarantee he’s ready for the majors right away. Pederson had a battling line of .303/.435/.582 in Triple-A last year to go along with 33 home runs, the Dodgers like him, and they should.
So the first option is to start him, and try to develop Pederson during the season, which seems unlikely to happen. Although Pederson’s OBP was good in the plate appearances he had with the Dodgers last season, four hits in 28 ABs is not good, at all. He’s only 22-years-old, so there’s a little bit of a learning curve involved with becoming a good player. The Dodgers seem all-in though, so the learning curve isn’t as big since they’re going for a championship. The Dodgers know what they’re getting out of Ethier, at least for the most part. Pederson is a low-risk, high-reward kind of player right now.
Option number two would be to look for a suitor from the AL. Ethier could be the perfect DH, considering he’s not good defensively, but has occasional power, and can also get on base, with the right team he could fit perfectly. It might be tough to get rid of him with that contract, but if anyone can do it, it’s Andrew Friedman. For example, not that they plan on shelling out a lot of money for a 32-year-old that has $71 million remaining on his contract, but if they did want to, the Kansas City Royals could use a player like Ethier, especially since Billy Butler is no longer with the organization.
The third option would be to try to trade Ethier for some very quality relievers. The Dodgers showed last season that they have the talent to be one of the premier teams in baseball, but their bullpen needs to be addressed. There is nothing more frustrating for a good team than to be brought down by a mediocre bullpen. Of course the Dodgers do in fact need a player like Ethier to come off the bench, it can’t be attached to that contract. If they can deal him for some fresh young arms, they should jump at that chance.
The main question that’s being asked though, is can Ethier show that he can bounce back to the player of just a few years ago. That remains to be seen. At the end of the day, it all comes down to that remaining money left on his contract. No bench player is worth $71 million.