The New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand just tweeted that the Dodgers might be looking to move Andre Ethier, with a possible view to getting involved in the Nick Swisher sweepstakes. That’s the same Andre Ethier they signed to a five-year $85 million extension in June.
The obvious caveat here is that this could well be part of the general winter chicanery that teams go through, sounding out rivals about availability of players and trying to gauge the market for their own talent. Alternatively, it may have no foundation at all. Even with those caveats, it would not be a surprise if there was a least something to this report as the number of similar rumours around Ethier give the impression that, even with money to burn, the Dodgers were regretting that extension even before the ink was dry on the contract.
For the first month after Ethier was extended, the Dodgers at least had some flexibility with him down the line as they retained the option to move him to left field or first base should the need arise. The franken-trade with the Red Sox has now backed the team into a corner on that front as Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are locked in at Ethier’s only other possible positions with even more difficult to trade contracts.
Even with the value of free agent contracts taking a bit of a hike this winter, it’s still hard to see Ethier’s contract as any sort of bargain. To move him the Dodgers are probably going to have to eat some money, unlikely to be an issue of course, and then turn around and find a replacement. If that replacement is Swisher, it’s hard to see how giving him a deal that wouldn’t be far away in years or money from Ethier would benefit the team. Swisher might be a small upgrade in the short term, but it’s likely to be a marginal shift and the he is also two years older than Ethier. Fortunately for the Dodgers, it looks like Ethier’s deal is unlikely to prevent them making other moves anytime soon which is just as well, given the difficulty they will likely have finding a helpful deal for him.