Andre Ethier, still here.
What’s an exciting Dodgers’ off-season without some Ethier trade speculation? Predictable as packed health clubs after New Year’s Day.
Only this year, it is a tad different. This year, the cries to unload Ethier are less because he was unproductive and looked headed toward the twilight of his career, and more like whispers his tenure will come into play.
No one can really complain about Ethier’s output last year. After becoming a reserve the previous season and making it clear going into spring training he had no interest in repeating that role in 2015, Ethier had a fairly terrific comeback.
So why would the Dodgers trade him now? Maybe because they feel like they almost have to.
Ethier will be 34 on April 10, and 11 days later, he will earn his 10-and-five rights (10 years of major league service, the last five with the same team) and can refuse any trade.
And that’s a problem for the Dodgers. His trade value may have increased after his productive 2015, but not enough to draw significant interest at a player his age and still owed $38 million on the final two years of his contract. If a slight number of teams do express interest — no doubt with a caveat that the Dodgers absorb a significant amount of contract — the Dodgers would not want Ethier to be able to nix a potential deal because he has no interest in playing there.
It would behoove the Dodgers to move him now, while whatever limited options they have available cannot be further reduced by Ethier. Yet if there has been any Ethier trade discussion going on, it has been remarkably quiet. Particularly for a player who has been involved in off-season trade rumors on an almost annual basis.
Enough to gamble he stays healthy and pay the final $38 million? The only way Ethier is likely to approve a trade after April 21 is if it meant significantly improved playing time on a contender. That could prove a tough combo.
For now, even with additional motivation to move him, Ethier is still here. He could be for the next two years, too, making him one of the most discussed trade pieces the Dodgers never moved.
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