As we prepare for Spring Training to begin, I sat in my office analyzing the recent contracts given to the last remaining superstars in the free agent pool and pondered how these deals could impact the Dodgers.
With the next offseason free agent market set to be a pretty meager one, a lot of teams could look to improve by way of trading rather than bidding. The pickings have been slimmed even more with the multi-year deals awarded to superstars Chris Davis (signed with Baltimore, $161M/7 yrs) and Justin Upton. (Detroit, $133/6 yrs) The last big piece to be signed is the cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes, who is also looking to land a long-term deal with the highest bidder.
The dollar’s value rapidly inflating every year in the MLB combined with the sparse talent in next year’s FA market, the contracts of Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford will soon seem less cumbersome to possible suitors who are willing to explore trade possibilities with the Dodgers.
To bring you all up to speed, Ethier is set to make $18 million in 2016, $17.5M in ’17 and has a $17.5M vesting option in ’18.Crawford is set to make over $21M in both 2016 and ’17. Both players are considered to be past their primes as they are both 34 years old, but have still shown that they can be productive throughout the season when put in the right situations. When Crawford is healthy, he still shows great efficiency running the bases. Ethier also played very well in his limited role last year, batting a skosh under .300 with 14 homers.
The one issue with moving Ethier remains the 10 and five clause, which states that if he starts the season on the Dodgers’ roster he’d have a full no-trade clause having spent a decade in the major leagues with at least five such years coming on the same team. Yes, the clause can always be waived, but leverage is always markably lower in a situation featuring a no-trade clause.
Even with their most productive years behind them, the desire in the league for veteran, battle-tested players is prominent during the trade deadline in every year. Ethier is likely to be the more coveted player as he is owed less money and has been a reliable player his entire career.
Crawford is the tougher sell. He is still owed much more money and hasn’t played more than 116 games in any of his last four seasons due to injury. In any deal including Crawford, the Dodgers would likely have to sweeten the pot by adding a prospect and/or paying much of his remaining salary.
In conclusion, the fans who have been asking for Dodgers management to move the inefficient contracts of Ethier and Crawford may get their wish this season. Said deal is still a little too far in the future to accurately predict a possible suitor, but the Dodgers are still slowly becoming the youthful team of the future that will become the perennial postseason contenders writers and analysts expect them to be.