Archive for Andre Ethier
Eight questions and seven answers this week, so let’s do this rapid fire style. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us whatever throughout the week.
Vinny asks: Who would you rather have in right field next year, Carlos Beltran or Curtis Granderson?
In a vacuum, Beltran. No doubt about it. But this isn’t a vacuum. In reality, we’re talking about Beltran and a 30-something overall draft pick or Granderson and the 18th overall pick. There’s also the contract size to consider. I think Beltran winds up with a similar deal to the one he has now, meaning two years and $26M or so. Granderson could wind up with three years and $39-45M. Something like that. Injury history (Beltran’s knees vs. Granderson’s fluky hit-by-pitches), potential age-related decline (Beltran is four years older than Granderson), and the team’s current situation (are they really good enough to win during Beltran’s two years?) all have to be considered. I’d take Beltran though, the difference between the 18th pick and a 30-something pick is pretty small.
Bill asks: How much do you think a pitcher can theoretically make or lose based on a few postseason starts? Take Ricky Nolasco the other night. Would an eight-inning, 11-strikeout game have given him a different label going into this offseason and been worth that much more?
Unless a guy gets hurt, very small. Remember, C.J. Wilson was awful for the Rangers during the 2011 postseason (5.79 ERA and 6.31 FIP in 28 innings) and it didn’t matter at all. He still got a very fair contract and reportedly turned down even more money from the Marlins to sign with the Angels. Maybe a history of good or bad postseason performance would affect a player’s market value, but I don’t think one individual postseason or series or start would. Teams are too smart to let one game change their valuation of a player that much.
Mark asks: Not that more payroll is the answer to the Yankees’ problems, but say hypothetically they were to win the World Series with a 2014 team payroll of say $210 million, would the increased television ratings, higher attendance and playoff ticket revenue make a major dent in the luxury tax they would be assessed for going over their $189 million target? Not sure if this is calculable or not, but it seems like it sure bears some serious discussion if I were them.
A $210M payroll means they’d be paying an extra $31.5M compared to staying under the luxury tax threshold ($21M in overages plus $10.5M in tax). Vince Gennaro’s work has shown that simply making the postseason is worth about $40M in increased revenue for the Yankees while winning the World Series is worth about $70M. His study and calculations were done in 2007, before the new Yankee Stadium opened and baseball’s economics changed with the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. I have to think those $40M and $70M figures are a bit light these days. So yes, I feel very comfortable saying winning the World Series with a $210M payroll is far more lucrative than not making the postseason with a $189M payroll. Far, far more lucrative. Of course, they could always win a title at $189M. I’m sure the Yankees have run their own numbers. They aren’t doing this on a whim.
Sean asks: With the emergence of Yan Gomes as the everyday catcher, do you think the Indians would be willing to deal Carlos Santana? I know they’ve used him at first-base and at DH, but Santana has apparently made it clear that he wants to play behind the plate. What sort of package do you think we’re looking at for the Yanks to land him? Do you think he’s a better option than signing Brian McCann?
Guilherme asks: I want to know what you guys think about Yan Gomes. Would he be a fit? For what the Indians would be willing to trade him?
Might as well lump these two together. I do think there’s a chance the Indians will be open to trading either Santana or Gomes for pitching help this winter, and I suppose the choice between the two may come down to the offers. Santana is far more established but more expensive (owed $17.75M through 2016 with an option for 2017) while Gomes has five years of team control and only 300 or so awesome plate appearances to his credit. Unless the Indians love them some David Phelps or Michael Pineda, I’m not sure what the Yankees could give them for Santana or Gomes aside from Ivan Nova. I’d happily take either catcher though. Backstops who can actually hit (!) and are under contract/control at an affordable rate for another few years are a super hot commodity.
Joey asks: When a scout is evaluating prospects, do they ever take what organization he is in in to consideration? What I mean by that is if the Yankees struggle to develop SP and the Rays crank them out year after year, will the scout look at the player and assume the Yankees can’t develop this guy in to a SP where maybe they says the Rays can?
They shouldn’t. The scout is evaluating a player’s package of tools and those don’t change from organization to organization. Scouts might look at a player and know their organization has a chance to help him develop more than another, but I don’t think that would change his evaluation. Gary Sanchez‘s physically ability is Gary Sanchez’s physical ability whether he’s a Yankee or a Twin or a Padre.
Brad asks: What are your thoughts on going after Bronson Arroyo this winter? He’s an innings-eater and he’s had experience in the AL East. I think we need a veteran arm to round out the rotation, especially if Hiroki Kuroda retires.
No way. It’s been a long time since Arroyo pitched in the AL East and he isn’t close to the same pitcher anymore. Over the last three seasons, he has a 5.52 K/9 (15.1%), a 1.43 BB/9 (14.0% HR/FB), and the fifth slowest non-knuckleballer fastball in baseball (86.6 mph). There’s a small chance three of the four guys ahead of him (Barry Zito, Shaun Marcum, Jeff Francis) will never throw another big league pitch. (Mark Buehrle is the other.) On top of all of that, Arroyo wants a multi-year contract. Innings are good, you need guys to soak up some innings, but I have no interest in bringing a soon-to-be 37-year-old guy with fringe stuff into the AL East and a small ballpark.
Kevin asks: Doesn’t Andre Ethier make sense if the Dodgers are willing to eat some salary and make him, say, a $7M player? He gets on base and doesn’t strike out that much and can take advantage of right field. I know he’s not any good on defense but they could pair him with someone like Justin Ruggiano and have one of the most productive corner outfields in the league.
Spending $7M on an injury-prone DH doesn’t sound like a great idea. Ethier has consistently been a 120-ish wRC+ player throughout his career but he can’t hit lefties at all (73 wRC+ this year and 67 wRC+ since 2011) and is a major defensive liability. I suppose you could hide him in right field for another year or two, but he’s already 31 and will turn 32 right around Opening Day. Ethier can mash righties and there is definitely a spot for him in the Yankees lineup, but that’s an awful lot of money — he is under contract through 2017, remember, so you’re essentially talking about a four-year, $28M contract if the Dodgers eat enough salary to make him a $7M a year player — for a very limited player. With payroll coming down, I’m more than happy to continue dumpster diving for Raul Ibanez types to fill that DH spot. I think that’s the last place the Yankees should commit huge bucks.
After a fairly dismal road trip, the Yankees now stand in third place with a 39-32 record and a run differential of zero. With just under 60% of the season remaining, there’s a lot of baseball to be played and a lot of time for rosters to change. As to be expected, Brian Cashman has already mentioned the team is “open for business,” so let’s take a look at some possible targets* who have been swirling about here at RAB.
The 23 year old outfielder formerly known as Mike hasn’t had the best luck this season. He was sidelined in late April for five weeks with a fairly severe hamstring strain. Since returning Stanton has batted .344/.382/.813 (1.195 OPS) with four home runs. He’s a career .270/.350/.550 (.382 wOBA, 140 wRC+) hitter with three cost controlled years remaining. This is exactly the type of guy the Yankees should pursue. Chances are the Marlins won’t completely screw their fanbase move their disgruntled superstar by the deadline, but they very well may consider moving him come the offseason.
The problem is that Stanton’s a superstar and superstars require major hauls. The Yankees would be required to give up at least four or five of their top prospects (which I would definitely be okay with) – we’re talking Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and maybe Rafael DePaula for starters – and that very well might not be enough to get it done, nor would a package such as that necessarily compete with other insane prospect packages offered by other organizations. Chances of this trade happening, in my opinion, are gloomy with a chance of “get-the-eff-outa-here,” but it’s fun to dream nevertheless.
Headley has had a disappointing start to the 2013 season, at least by his standards. He’s batting .221/.328/.350 (.304 wOBA, 99 wRC+); hence the “Quick! It’s time to buy…” chants. The problem here is threefold. First, the Padres, despite sitting right at .500 are only three games out of first place, so they probably aren’t going to be sellers, at least as it stands now.
Second, San Diego GM Josh Byrnes isn’t a fool. He’s not going to just hand over a young, talented third baseman just because he’s struggled early on this season – it just doesn’t behoove the team to act in such reactionary fashion. In fact, the organization actively tried to discuss a long-term extension with Headley already. Third, and along the same lines as Stanton, if Byrnes were to trade Headley, it wouldn’t be cheap nor would NY necessarily have enough MLB-ready, elite prospects to get a deal done. If this was doable, I’d be all for it even if it meant gutting the farm. I just don’t see it happening though. Bummer.
This one’s kind of interesting because it’s much more plausible. The former Yankee second baseman has a full no-trade clause, though that really isn’t a big deal as he can still approve a move to NY (and all indications suggest he would be willing to consider them). Contractually, Soriano is still owed about $30.5M total for the remainder of this season and next. Presumably, if the Cubs were to make a move, the expectation would probably be for them to eat a significant chunk of the contract if they’re expecting any sort of return. If the Cubs just wanted to unload the remaining salary on to another team (which is also possible), they probably wouldn’t get anything back — kind of like how the Yankees handled A.J. Burnett.
Maybe the Cubs are willing to eat $15-20M, in which case I could see a C-level prospect getting thrown into the deal. In terms of upgrading the Yankee lineup, Soriano has hit .249/.280/393 (.290 wOBA, 79 wRC+) this season but is one year removed from posting a 116 wRC+, 3.6 fWAR season last year. He also has a very discernible splits against right-handers and he’s never shown a whole lot of patience at the plate (career 5.9 BB%). Would he be an improvement over what the Yankees are currently trotting out into left field? Probably. Do we really want another him though? I’d say no unless the Cubs eat almost all the remaining dollars, in which case, my official stance becomes “meh.” Eventually Curtis Granderson will return anyway.
Now here’s another guy who’s name gets mentioned frequently around here. Ethier has batted .251/.333/.377 (.308 wOBA, 98 wRC+) this season, which is about on par with what ZiPS projected. On the plus side he’s consistently been a 100-plus wRC+ hitter who has hit for some power over the years. On the downside, he has very obvious splits – lefties haven’t been particularly kind to him which inevitably translates into another platoon bat. He’s also shown increasing strikeout trends over the past few seasons. Moreover, his defensive value in right field has been judged as anywhere from slightly below-average to outright lousy.
The real elephant in the room though is the contract. The Dodgers saw fit to give Ethier a five year, $85M deal which carries him through 2017 (plus a 2018 club option). That translates out to about $8M owed this year, $15M in 2014, $18M in 2015 and 2016, then $17.5M in 2017. Yikes. Then there’s the age. He’s already 31 years old. I don’t want to see the Yankees on the hook for a ton of cash during his decline years, and I don’t want to see anyone noteworthy get shipped out to LA in return for him. Fortunately, should the Yankees elect to send prospects to LA, I imagine it would be nothing beyond a B-level prospect. Granted, I have never been a big Ethier supporter, but I really have no interest in seeing another corpse stumbling along the bases over the next several years.
*For the record, I have been saying from day one that there aren’t going to be any big names heading to NY by the trade deadline. Until I see otherwise, I’m sticking by this prediction. Also, if you have any trade targets you’d like me to consider, please submit them using the “Submit a Tip” feature, and I’ll try to incorporate it into my follow up piece which will hopefully be written in the next week or so.
Via Mark Feinsand: The Dodgers are shopping nominal outfielder and left-handed hitter Andre Ethier, echoing what we heard back in October. Ken Rosenthal says two AL teams have already inquired (Mariners? Rangers?), but Los Angeles has “zero interest” in moving him. Standard protocol.
Ethier, 30, has consistently produced in the 120-135 wRC+ range over the last five or six years, with most of that damage coming against righties. His 71 wRC+against southpaws over the last five seasons is one of the worst marks in baseball. Either is also a poor defender in the outfield and is usually good for a DL stint or two during the season as well. He’s also signed for $85M (!) over the next five years, which is insanity. The Dodgers would have to eat an awful lot of that $85M for a deal to make sense for the Yankees, 2014 payroll plan or not.
Via Buster Olney: The Dodgers are open to the idea of trading Andre Ethier this offseason. They’re probably looking to create some roster and payroll flexibility moving forward after that blockbuster deal with the Red Sox.
Ethier, 30, would make a lot of sense for the Yankees and their right field opening had he not just signed a five-year, $85M extension this summer. Add in the fact that he can’t hit lefties and is good for one or two DL trips per year, and I don’t see much of a fit here unless Los Angeles eats a significant chunk of the salary. Rather than trade for Ethier and absorb his contract, the Yankees could just re-sign Nick Swisher — the superior player both offensively and defensively — for (likely) less money and plug the outfield hole that way.
While you were sleeping last night, news broke that the Dodgers and Andre Ethier had agreed to a five-year. $85M contract extension with a vesting option for a sixth year that could push the total value north of $100M. It’s the third largest contract in franchise history behind the Matt Kemp and Kevin Brown deals and one of the 15 richest contracts ever for an outfielder. Ethier was scheduled to hit free agency this offseason but instead decided to stay in Los Angeles for a rather healthy sum.
Baseball Time in Arlington has already looked at the impact this deal will have on Josh Hamilton and the Rangers — presumably one fewer suitor now — but it also trickles down to the Yankees. Nick Swisher is scheduled to become a free agent this winter and like Ethier, he’s a very good but not elite corner outfielder in his early-30s. They’ve produced similar offensive (127 vs. 124 wRC+ in favor of Ethier) and defensive (-12 vs. -14 DRS* in favor of Swisher) numbers since the start of 2009, though Swisher has played in at least 150 games in each of the last six seasons while Ethier has done so just twice in his career and not since 2009.
* Defensive metrics are quite ambiguous, so if you look at UZR it’s Swisher in a landslide: +5.4 vs. -24.6.
Obviously Ethier is having the far better season in 2012 — 131 wRC+ and 2.2 fWAR vs. 105 and 0.4 for Swisher — and that’s part of the reason why the Dodgers were so desperate to re-sign him. He’s a fan favorite and while he’s not truly homegrown, he’s never played for another big league team. He’s gotten MVP votes and been to multiple All-Star Games, plus he has a “clutch” reputation. All of that helped Ethier land this massive contract and is stuff Swisher doesn’t have going for him, but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, their actual production on the baseball field, Swisher is a comparable player if not better than baseball’s newest $85M.
That said, I can’t see any way Swisher will land a contract that big this offseason without a Bonds-ian finish to the season. At the same time, my hopes of seeing the Yankees bring him back for Michael Cuddyer’s contract — three years and $31M — inflated upwards by 25% or so now seem pointless. Maybe I was being naive in the first place, I’m great at underestimating future free agent contracts. There seems to be little chance of Swisher signing a modest little three-year pact no matter how much he loves New York, which leaves the Yankees in a bind because they don’t have an ready-made outfield replacement and are trying to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold within the next 18 months or so.
Perhaps Brett Gardner‘s elbow injury and latest setback is a blessing in disguise. Maybe it will force the Yankees to look to the trade market for a replacement outfielder, someone that could play left in Gardner’s stead this year before taking over right field next year. I don’t know who that guy would be, but it’s a possibility. Much like Yadier Molina and the catching market, Ethier’s contract really skewed the outfield market for this coming offseason. Swisher, Hamilton, Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, and Shane Victorino now all have a pricy benchmark to reference in contract talks, and that doesn’t help the Yankees one bit.
A few weeks ago, Brian Cashman indicated that trading for a DH-type bat was preferable to signing a free agent, though there aren’t many of those guys out there to be had right now. We’ve talked about Jason Bay, Garrett Jones, Nolan Reimond, Lucas Duda, David Wright, Kyle Blanks, and Brandon Allen among others but one guy we haven’t discussed is Andre Ethier of the Dodgers. That’s mostly because the soon-to-be 30-year-old Dodgers star isn’t actually on the market, though that’s never stopped us before.
Jim Bowden kinda got the ball rolling with this ESPN piece (Insider req’d) earlier this week, suggesting the Yankees trade Dellin Betances and Austin Romine to Los Angeles for Ethier. I’ve been pretty hard on the Dodgers’ right fielder in our weekly chats over the last year or so, but mostly because he’s not much of an outfielder and not the upgrade over Nick Swisher the MSM would lead you to believe. As far as the DH spot goes though, he’s nearly a perfect fit.
The Yankees are looking for a left-handed bat to platoon with Andruw Jones, and the 30-year-old Ethier is very much qualified for the job. He’s hit .313/.398/.537 against pitchers of the opposite hand over the last three years, a 151 wRC+ that is the eighth best in baseball during that time. Ethier is miserable against lefties — .215/.279/.329 and a 65 wRC+ over the last three years, fourth worst in baseball — but the Yankees wouldn’t be asking him to stand in against southpaws. That will be up to Andruw on most days. Yankee Stadium will help him out a bit more than Dodger Stadium, though he would have to adjust to a new league and new pitchers.
Ethier doesn’t do anything other than hit righties, which is why he should be considered nothing more than a DH candidate. His defensive numbers — -24.6 UZR, -11 DRS, -21.8 TZ, and -9.3 FRAA — rate him as one of the five or so worst outfielders in the game over the last three seasons, grouping him in with Raul Ibanez, Delmon Young, and Ryan Braun. So yeah, it’s bad. Ethier also has knee problems, having surgery in September to remove loose bodies and repair cartilage in his right knee. Getting him out of the outfield should help with that, in theory. He doesn’t steal bases or take the extra base very often either. Ethier is what he is, and that’s a righty mashing DH-type. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, he’d fit right into this Yankees lineup.
The problem is that the cost to acquire him is probably very high right now. The season hasn’t started yet, and the Dodgers didn’t spend over $44M on free agents this winter to sell off their third best player before pitchers and catchers report. He’s also slated to make close to $11M in 2012, which is about six times what the Yankees have said they have to spend on a DH. I’m looking at Ethier more as a trade deadline target, once the Dodgers fall out of the race and the Yankees have had a chance to evaluate their in-house options. I don’t know what the cost would be, but I have to imagine there will be competition for his services (the Red Sox, Rangers, Braves, and Nationals could all use a corner outfielder). This doesn’t figure to be a salary dump situation.
Ethier isn’t the kind of guy you lock into a multi-year contract when he hits free agency after the season, but he’s a damn fine rental player. The Yankees have the prospects to get a deal done — Bowden’s suggested proposal isn’t insane, but the Yankees need the catching depth and I’d hold onto Romine — and figure to have the need come late-July, so there’s a natural fit here. They can get some extra input on his personality and makeup from former teammates Russell Martin and Hiroki Kuroda, and then make a decision based on their needs and the cost. A doubt a trade will happen anytime soon, but expect to see the Yankees connected to Ethier quite a bit this summer if they can’t solve their DH issue on the cheap.