Trade Target: Andre Ethier

Jeff Gross

ESPN's Buster Olney is reporting that the Los Angeles Dodgers are open to trading right fielder Andre Ethier this off-season (perhaps because they have 47 outfielders on the roster). Is Ethier someone the Indians should look into acquiring to fill a need?

Before we get any further, let's take a look at Andre Ethier's career numbers, which may not be familiar to Indians fans:

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2006 24 LAD 126 441 396 50 122 20 7 11 55 5 5 34 77 .308 .365 .477 .842 113
2007 25 LAD 153 507 447 50 127 32 2 13 64 0 4 46 68 .284 .350 .452 .802 105
2008 26 LAD 141 596 525 90 160 38 5 20 77 6 3 59 88 .305 .375 .510 .885 132
2009 27 LAD 160 685 596 92 162 42 3 31 106 6 4 72 116 .272 .361 .508 .869 132
2010 28 LAD 139 585 517 71 151 33 1 23 82 2 1 59 102 .292 .364 .493 .857 133
2011 29 LAD 135 551 487 67 142 30 0 11 62 0 1 58 103 .292 .368 .421 .789 121
2012 30 LAD 149 618 556 79 158 36 1 20 89 2 2 50 124 .284 .351 .460 .812 123
7 Yrs 1003 3983 3524 499 1022 231 19 129 535 21 20 378 678 .290 .362 .476 .838 124

Playing so many games in Dodger Stadium deflates his offensive numbers a bit, but you can see from his OPS+ numbers over the years that he's been a well above average hitter. Ethier's RC+ (a similar stat which more heavily weighs on-base percentage) for recent seasons is just as solid: 132 (2010), 122 (2011), 124 (2012).

Clearly, he's been a very solid offensive player. Among outfielders with at least 1,000 PA over the last three years, Ethier ranks 16th in OPS+ and 17th in RC+. Neither Baseball-Reference nor Fangraphs has loved his defense over the years, but he's rated better in the last couple seasons than he did earlier in his career.

His bWAR figures for the last three years: 1.7 (2010), 2.1 (2011), 3.5 (2012)

His fWAR figures for the last three years: 2.3 (2010), 2.9 (2011), 3.4 (2012)

I'd put him outside the top 25 outfielders in baseball, but within the top 40. Whether the Indians trade Shin-Soo Choo before losing him to free agency or not, there's obviously a need here in Cleveland for a corner outfielder, and Ethier has been a good one.

There are two rubs against Ethier, as I see it:

1) He'll be 31 years old next season, meaning his best seasons are probably behind him. The Indians should probably be looking to acquire players who are still on their way up.

2) He's signed through 2017 at a total of $82.5 million (with a vesting option in 2018 for $17.5 million). That's a whole lot of money over five years, probably more than he's been worth over the last five (when again, he was probably in his prime).

There are outfield options in free agency, and while very few of them are as good as Ethier, they're also going to be less expensive. I'm not sure what the Dodgers would be looking to get back in a trade (though I know their young shortstop, Dee Gordon has been a mess), and it's also not clear at this point if L.A. is willing to foot some of the bill for Ethier.

Because of his age and the cost of acquiring him (both in money and in trade assets), Ethier is not particularly appealing to me. I'd rather have Justin Upton if we're trading for someone good, and I think they can fill the need through free agency if need be.

What are your thoughts? Does Ethier interest you? If so, what would you be willing to see the Indians part with in order to get him? How much salary are you comfortable with the Tribe taking on?

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