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MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Dodgers Trade Andre Ethier?

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Before running errands and attending my daughter's soccer game on Saturday, I quicky read Buster Olney's Saturday morning blog. As I skimmed the article, I came across this about Andre Ethier:

2. Friends of Andre Ethier believe there is no chance that the right fielder will sign with the Dodgers beyond the 2012 season, and if that's the case, it would make sense for L.A. to explore the possibility of trading Ethier this winter, when they can get decent value for him.

I wrote this article opining that the Dodgers should deal him way back on July 8th when the Dodgers were discussing being sellers at the trade deadline. I discussed some of my reasons for why the Dodgers should deal Ethier, and here is one of them, which at the time was how I felt about the direction of the team:

I think the Dodgers should deal Ethier because they may be a few years away from contending, and they will lose with or without him. Plus, the Dodgers maximize their return by dealing him now rather than in the offseason or next season.

I stated that the Dodgers were a few years from contending, but the way they have played the last two months of the season has changed my thoughts about that.

My thoughts after the jump:

My opinion on how quick the Dodgers can turn things around in the NL West has changed based on how they have played the last two months of the season. The team is lead by two superstars in outfielder Matt Kemp, who is the leading candidate to win the NL MVP, and ace starter Clayton Kershaw, who has a great chance to win the NL Cy Young award. In addition to the two superstars, they have shortstop prospect Dee Gordon and outfield prospect Jerry Sands, both of whom have hit much better since returning from the minors.

In addition to Kemp, Kershaw, Gordon and Sands, the Dodgers bullpen is much improved and is very young. They are lead by closer Javy Guerra and closer in waiting Kenley Jansen, who has been absolutely dominant of late. This from Eric Stephen over at TrueBlueLA:

Kenley Jansen faced three batters in the eighth inning, and struck them all out. Jansen has struck out nine of the last 12 batters he faced, and 25 of the last 38, too. He has six walks and 46 strikeouts in his last 22 innings pitched. Simply amazing. Jansen is averaging 15.95 strikeouts per nine innings this season, just shy of the record of 15.99, set by Carlos Marmol of the Chicago Cubs last year.

But with all that said, I would still trade Andre Ethier.

I would deal Ethier for several reasons. One, I don't see them signing him to a long term deal as they will have to dole out big conttracts to both Kemp and Kershaw in the next few years, with a Kemp extension an almost certaintly this offseason.

Two, Ethier's power has dropped in each of the last two seasons. He hit 31 HRs in 2009, and followed that up with 23 home runs in 2010, and just 11 HRs in 135 games in 2011. His ISO has dropped from .237 in 2009 to .201 in 2010 to just .129 this season.

Three, in addition to the ISO drop, his fly ball rate has also fallen off a cliff. His fly ball rate has dropped from 41.5% in 2009 to just 31% this season. His HR/FB rate has also dropped over the same time period. Here are his HR/FB rates over the past three seasons:

2009 - 15.4%

2010 - 13.8%

2011 - 9.2%

His drop in power and fly ball rates may be related to all the injuries he has sustained the past three seasons. Last season, he dealt with an injured pinky and this season it was his right knee that ended his season early. He had minor knee surgery to clean up the wear and tear on his knee on Wednesday.

At this point, I am not sure what the Dodgers can get for him in a trade, but I don't see him returning to be the hitter he was back in 2009, and am not sure he will hit for much power even when he is healthy.