All winter long, there were rumors that one of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ outfielders might be on the move as there was simply not enough room for Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and the young phenom Yasiel Puig to play every day. The rumors have remained, and Ethier and Crawford are the two who have become most likely to be dealt.
Last week, the Detroit Tigers were mentioned as a team that could conceivably be a landing spot for Ethier or Crawford. So far, the rumors have not gained a whole lot of traction, which is probably a good thing, as neither player would make much sense for the Tigers at this point.
The Tigers may be desperate for a left-handed bat, but they are most likely not desperate enough to want to take Ethier or Crawford off of the Dodgers’ hands. After all, even though the Tigers have few left-handed hitters, they still find themselves in first place in the AL Central with a 17-9 record and a 4.5 game lead at the moment.
Ethier and Crawford each have impressive MLB resumes, but they both come with massive contracts. It is also beginning to look like their best years could very well be behind them. Ethier, 32, entered the 2014 campaign coming off of his worst season to date and being owed $71.5 million through 2018. He is currently off to just a .239/.306/.341 start with two home runs and three doubles. He has, however, driven in 15 runs.
The Ethier of 2008-12 would certainly look nice in the Tigers’ lineup, but the Tigers would be taking a big risk in acquiring the Ethier of 2013-14. He is, however, still young enough where a change of scenery could perhaps rejuvenate his career, but it would be a gamble even if the Dodgers offered to eat a sizable portion of his contract.
Crawford, who will turn 33 in August, has simply not been the same player since leaving the Tampa Bay Rays to sign a mega-deal with the Boston Red Sox after the 2010 season. He has already been traded once since then, and he entered the season being owed $82.5 million through 2017. He is off to just a .200/.225/.306 start and he would make even less sense for the Tigers than Ethier.
Lastly, the Tigers’ farm system is not as deep as it could be, and they are going to need the few good prospects that they still have, rather than trade them for a player who is on the decline and is still owed millions.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the Tigers’ 2014 season thus far is the way that Rajai Davis has been playing. Davis has been proving to his doubters that he is indeed capable of being an everyday player. He has been performing to the tune of a .337 batting average with an .837 OPS, and he has already swiped 11 bases. There is no good reason that he should lose playing time to Ethier or Crawford.
Even though Davis is a right-handed hitter who has a history of struggling against right-handed pitching, he enters play on Monday batting .350 against righties while Ethier and Crawford are batting .274 and .232 against RHP respectively.
Yes, the Tigers are indeed extremely light on left-handed hitting with the exception of a formidable switch-hitter by the name of Victor Martinez. However, Alex Avila has begun to come around as of late, and the organization should still give Andy Dirks a chance to show what he can do after coming off of the DL.
Granted, there is no guarantee of how well Dirks will play upon his return after missing several months, and it should also be noted that he struggled mightily for much of the 2013 season. That said, with the way that Ethier and Crawford are playing these days, on top of the money that they are owed, Dirks could still very well be the better option for the Tigers.