A predicament will be present at Camelback Ranch and with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season in the outfield.
Currently, the team has three healthy outfielders and a recovering Matt Kemp waiting in the wings. Kemp recently stated that he wouldn’t accept a role as the extra outfielder once he’s healthy.
According to Mark Saxon of ESPN LA, fellow outfielder Andre Ethier shared the same feelings:
The team’s made a financial commitment to all of us. If, all of a sudden, a guy says he’s happy accepting that kind of role, wouldn’t you as a fan say, ‘He’s happy being complacent?’
Last season, Ethier began the season as the team’s starting right fielder before moving over to center field once Kemp went down with several injuries. As a result, Yasiel Puig was called up and took over right field duties, hitting .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBI in 104 games with the Dodgers.
Carl Crawford mans left field and wouldn’t appear to be going anywhere from that spot, leaving Ethier and Kemp for the final spot. As long as Kemp is injured, Ethier is in, but once Kemp is back, Ethier may be relegated to the bench. Ethier signed a five-year, $85 million extension and should expect a spot in the outfield. Once all four are healthy, the Dodgers will be faced with a dilemma that could be solved by via trade.
Ethier has seen his numbers dwindle from 31 home runs and 106 RBI in 2009 to 12 home runs and 52 RBI last season. His reduced production and smaller contract make him a prime candidate to be traded once Kemp is back. Teams have shown interest this off-season, but the Dodgers were simply listening to offers and weren’t actively searching for a trade. Ethier’s attitude and demeanor had many questioning his play the past few seasons, but his willingness to change positions and play through injuries in the postseason during the 2013 season, answered many of those questions.
It’s nice to see that none of the outfielders want to sit on the bench, but the fact of the matter is that eventually one of them will.
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