After being maligned by his manager and now suffering a foot injury, Andre Ethier, who just a few months ago inked a five-year, $85 million extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, couldn’t be in worse favor with the team’s management.
Although both Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are hurt as well, Ethier could soon find himself out of the starting lineup and quite possibly on another team by the time both big-name outfielders are back.
Forcing the issue are phenom Yasiel Puig and role-player Scott Van Slyke. It is quite clear that Puig will be a mainstay in the Dodgers outfield as long as he is wearing Dodger blue (which will be quite a while), and the team can live with power-hitting Van Slyke getting his reps while a struggling Ethier takes a more peripheral role.
When even one of the other injured outfielders come back, the Dodgers will likely deal off Ethier to a suitor, getting rid of as much of his contract as possible.
Might that suitor be the New York Mets?
The Mets certainly have the funds to afford Ethier in a contract-for-nothing deal, but Sandy Alderson and Fred Wilpon are likely to try and squeeze as much value out of a dollar as possible.
$85 million is quite a bit to pay for a struggling outfielder on the wrong side of 30, and the fact that it would be a trade and not a free agent signing makes prospects seem even more grim, but the Dodgers are in a position of desperation, with palpable tension in the clubhouse surrounding Ethier.
If the Dodgers were to eat about $45 million of Ethier’s contract and accept the fact that they will receive next to nothing in return, a trade becomes very much worth considering for the Mets. Under $10 million a year becomes a bargain if Ethier can be even a shadow of his former self.
All in all, if the Mets can acquire Ethier for nothing and take on a small portion of his salary, this could be a huge bargain of a buy-low deal, especially if supplemented by a center field acquisition. If it costs any more, the team should wait to sign a free agent.