On Andre Ethier’s 10-5 rights and trading Carl Crawford

You know it’s the offseason when Andre Ethier‘s name comes up in trade rumors. Or the regular season. Or any season.

Ken Rosenthal wrote something that we’ve been hearing for years now.

“Ethier, who will play next season at 34, still is owed $38 million over two years, but the Dodgers are willing to reduce that obligation — as well as Carl Crawford‘s remaining $41.75 million over two years — by including cash in any trade.”

Yes, the Dodgers are willing to include cash to trade Ethier and/or Crawford. That isn’t breaking news, and they should absolutely be willing to do so. But there might be a case for keeping Ethier.

Ethier is coming off the best season of his career … if you look at wRC+. His 137 mark topped the 134 he posted in 2008. This is mostly because he didn’t face many lefties in 2015. I wrote about it in late September when some were calling for guys like Ethier to play everyday because they had “been there before.”

“Look, there’s no denying Ethier has been great this season. Not just good, great. He looks like a completely different player than he did last year. He’s hitting righties to the tune of .307/.383/.512 this season. That’s great. I understand why people want him to play more. But the fact is, Ethier still cannot hit left-handed pitchers (.214/.227/.262 in 44 plate appearances this season). If that sample size is too small, he’s hitting .234/.292/.345 for his career in 1,366 plate appearances, with most of that damage coming early in his career (.351/.378/.468 in 2006 and .279/.319/.396 in 2007). The reason Ethier has been so good this season is because he isn’t playing against left-handers. He is truly a platoon player, hence his sitting against lefties.”

He finished with a .200/.229/.244 triple slash against southpaws in 48 plate appearances. He’s unplayable against them. Despite that, I don’t especially want the Dodgers to trade him. I’ve been trying to trade him since 2011, so this is quite an about-face. But with the uncertain production in center- and right field, having a consistent producer in left field (if even only 60 percent of the time) is something that can’t be overlooked.

Ethier gains his 10-5 rights (10 years of service time in the majors, five consecutively with the same team) on April 21, which gives him a no-trade clause. To be honest, this isn’t a big deal. He’s due $38 million over the next two years (includes the $2.5 million buyout after 2017). Having a deal like that isn’t prohibitive to the payroll, especially if he’s producing. It would also give him a chance to (possibly) finish his career as a Dodger. He has to be willing to realize he isn’t an everyday player at this stage because of his ineffectiveness against lefties. While I’m sure he wants to play everyday, it just doesn’t make sense.

As the team is currently constructed, they should probably keep Ethier. But, the Dodgers absolutely need to jettison Crawford. His production isn’t worth the roster spot he’s taking up on the 40-man roster. He’s owed $41.75 million over the next two seasons. If he were healthy and producing, it’d be one thing. He isn’t, and for the Dodgers to move him, they’d have to eat a significant portion of his deal. If he is a 2-year, $10 million (total) commitment, that could be attractive to a team looking for an outfielder. The Dodgers have shown a willingness to eat money to get rid of players or have them play elsewhere — why should Crawford’s deal be any different? I don’t know where he would go. I don’t particularly care where he’d go.

The Dodgers have a surplus of outfielders and one (or two) need to be traded this offseason. I feel like we’ve been saying this for years (because we have). Unless a team wants Ethier to complete a deal or the Dodgers are offered a deal they couldn’t refuse, Crawford appears to be the odd man out. It’s easier to try to trade Joc Pederson or Scott Van Slyke, but it makes the most sense to move on from Crawford, even if they have to eat almost all of his contract. Ethier’s 10-5 rights don’t really matter a whole lot to a team like the Dodgers, especially since he’s still productive.

Having said that, Ethier will be traded tomorrow, probably.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.