ST. LOUIS -- It’s been written here umpteen times how badly the Cardinals would ideally like to acquire Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista this offseason. Given the amount it would take to pry him away from Toronto – and the fact the Jays may not be inclined to deal Bautista at all – a trade between the two teams happening is highly unlikely.
That means more irons need to be thrown into the fire. More calls need to be made. More potential matches need to be sought.
That brings us to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, the same Dodgers the Cardinals have eliminated for the past two postseasons. Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports is reporting LA is “aggressively” trying to move at least one of their veteran (i.e. high priced) outfielders.
It makes sense. Between Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford the Dodgers have too many guys for really one open spot. Yasiel Puig and up-and-coming Joc Pederson figure to get a lot of playing time this year. Even St. Louis native Scott Van Slyke is a nice bench player.
So between Kemp, Ethier and Crawford someone has to go. It’s even possible two could go depending on what the market holds.
Last I checked the Cardinals were in need of some help there. Could there be a match? Well, there’s a few factors here. First of which, would the Dodgers even be willing to entertain the idea of trading with the Cards? Helping out the team that’s been your October kryptonite for two years?
We have to remember, though, this isn’t the same front office. Ned Colletti is no longer the Dodgers’ general manager. Former Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman is running the show as President of Baseball Operations with Farhan Zaidi taking over the general manager duties.
Thus, I wouldn’t see a problem with the two teams making a deal if the right pieces were there.
Then the question becomes which one of those three would GM John Mozeliak covet? Kemp makes the most sense given his 25 home runs and .852 OPS last year in 541 at-bats. At 30-years old he’s the one you could plug into your lineup for the next several years and reap the rewards (provided he stays healthy).
Money – as it is with Ethier and Crawford – is the issue. Kemp is just three years into an 8-year, $160 million contract that goes through the 2019 season. He’s owed more than $21 million for the next five seasons. Kemp was good, really good in fact, this past season. But for that money? No thanks.
The Dodgers would have to eat some of that themselves, which I’m sure they know.
The 32-year old Ethier is a former Gold Glove winner who is in a steep decline offensively. After hitting 20 home runs with a .811 OPS in 2012 he fell to 12 homers and a .783 OPS in 2013. Those numbers dropped again in ’14 (four home runs, .692 OPS). Granted, his numbers have fallen along with his playing time due to the emergence of others, but still.
It appears the Phoenix native isn’t the same player who the Dodgers signed to a 5-year, $85 million contract prior to the 2013 season.
Unlike Kemp though who is owed money for the next five years, Ethier is under contract for just three more. There is a club option for 2018 per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Crawford hit .300 this season in 343 at-bats with 23 stolen bases. He’s owed more than $21 million a year through 2017. The issue with him as it relates to the Cardinals is the fact he’s a left fielder and a left fielder only. So unless Mike Matheny is willing to relocate either him or Matt Holliday to right field that wouldn’t work.
This leaves us with Kemp or Ethier. I have little doubt the Dodgers would prefer to move Ethier and keep Kemp. It also depends on how much money Los Angeles is willing to swallow.
Something tells me if Mozeliak was going to deal with LA he’d probably want to stay away from taking on significant money but also not want to give up a premium prospect like Rob Kaminsky, Alex Reyes, Stephen Piscotty or Marco Gonzales.
If that’s the case I would imagine that takes the Cardinals out of the Matt Kemp running. Someone out there – even if the Dodgers chose to unload Kemp – would hand over a really good prospect and take on fairly decent money because he’s still an elite player.
The Cards won’t win that battle given the reluctance to part with premium talent and take on a boat load of payroll.
This leaves us with Andre Ethier. He’s a versatile defender who can play center, left or right. He’s just a couple years removed from hitting 20 home runs and wouldn’t cost nearly as much (in prospects or finances) to acquire.
If the Cardinals made a move with the Dodgers, that’s a big if, something tells me Ethier would be the likely target.