ANDRE ETHIER, 32, outfielder.
Final 2014 stats: .249 batting average, four home runs, 42 RBI, 17 doubles, .322 on-base and .370 slugging percentages in 380 plate appearances.
Contract status: Three years and $56 million remaining on contract.
The good: Well, he didn’t whine about playing time. Most would say that might be hard to do considering the season he had, but Ethier could always argue the chicken-and-egg theory.
Still, given multiple opportunities, he never publicly went off about initially sharing playing time and then later being sent to the bench. Which given his past, must have come as a pleasant surprise to many.
What offensive damage he did manage came almost exclusively in the first half (.254, all four homers, 34 RBI). His RBI total was only four back of Carl Crawford. Had a 24-game stretch (April 26 to May 27) where he put up a .351/.407/.527 slash line.
He played all three outfield positions, and even a game at first, and was charged with only one error.
The bad: Had the worst season of his nine-year career in every single offensive category except – curiously – triples. His six triples were one shy of his career-high set his rookie season.
Still, it was a highly disappointing season for Ethier at the plate, pretty much all the way around. Though his line-drive percentage was slightly up over his career average (25% to 22%), his ratio of groundouts to fly outs doubled from a year ago (1.54% to 0.77%).
He went without a home run in his last 59 games (130 plate appearances).
What’s next: Everything remains possible for Ethier. He could emerge as a starting outfielder, be traded or head back to the bench.
The take: Do the Dodgers think Ethier is done? You have to wonder, the way they used him last season. Even now, with a front office overhaul, there’s been little indication they still believe in him. And he’s 32.
It was expected, given their surplus of outfielders, that either Crawford or Ethier would be traded this off-season. When a trade did come, it was a confounding deal that sent Matt Kemp to the Padres.
Now the Dodgers apparently no longer feel the need to deal another outfielder, while Ethier is already on record saying he wants to start here or somewhere else. Say this for his situation, it’s interesting.
It appears the Dodgers plan to give phenom Joc Pederson every opportunity to win the center-field job, which in theory would move Yasiel Puig back to right, leave Crawford in left and Ethier one unhappy man. Even if Pederson has a strong spring, it would seem foolish to begin the season without a reasonable backup should he falter. Which could point to them yet hanging onto Ethier.