In this mock scenario, I sharpen up my mustache and assume the role of Ned Colletti. The role of Boston GM Ben Cherington is played by Boston Red Sox correspondent Alex Peters.
Campos: So, remember how last year you wrote about a potential outfield controversy in Los Angeles, and how a trade with the Red Sox could fix this? Well, this problem is still unfolding as the Dodgers have five outfielders vying for three spots. To make matters even more complicated, our best center fielder might be in the minor leagues. Joc Pederson has his own red flags, but his numbers indicate that he could be a stud in the majors.
We’re not looking for a blockbuster trade here. We would like to pave a road for Joc and improve our major league team at another position. It would seem like the Red Sox are in even more need of an outfielder than they were six months ago, right?
Peters: For sure, Alex, though the Red Sox don’t just need an outfielder, they just need another bat in general. Despite a pitching staff that’s put together a terrific first half (a 3.83 ERA, good for 8th in the AL), the Red Sox have put up one of the worst offensive performances in the league. Last year, a lineup that had the second best batting average in the league (.277) and best slugging percentage (.446), has plummeted to a 20th best .248 average, and a 22nd best .376 slugging percentage.
That’s bad, that’s really bad.
But while any bat would help, it’s the outfield that’s been a mess. Daniel Nava is finally turning around from a horrific first few months, but hasn’t shown any of the power that made him so intriguing last season.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is putting up an all-time great defensive season in centerfield, and is definitely worth starting, but his .230/.305/.316 line won’t strike fear into many hearts.
Jonny Gomes is still mashing against lefties (.318/.414/.455), but has been useless against righties (.151/.236/.258, which makes John Farrell’s insistence on his batting there so infuriating) and has turned into a real liability in left field.
Shane Victorino is finally back from the DL, but isn’t exactly a sure thing to stay off it for the rest of the year. The team’s even resorted to putting utility-star and bona fide AL MVP candidate Brock Holt in the outfield, because his bat is so desperately needed.
Yup, things are bad. The Dodgers need to dump an OF, and we need one. Let’s do this. Who out of the four would be most available?
Campos: Well, I know Matt Kemp is probably the most desirable of the non-Puig outfielders. Kemp’s younger than Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford, and is just three years removed from a historic season. Since then, he’s had issues with his ankle and his shoulder and has lost a step. He was never a great fielder, but had more than enough athleticism to make up for it.
Now, he is a minus defender and reports say he is unhappy about losing his spot in center field. However, head coach Don Mattingly threw Yasiel Puig in center and Kemp is now playing in right. He’s been playing it well and seems to be happy about it. Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, is starting a bunch of rumors and saying Kemp wouldn’t mind being traded. However, he is the second best outfielder in our organization. An outfield with him, Puig and Pederson would be our dream.
I’m sure Carl Crawford would be a hard sell for you guys. You’ve been down that road before.
Scott Van Slyke is an interesting prospect, but we would prefer to hold on to him. Not only is he a great power threat, but he can play first base, which helps with Adrian Gonzalez getting older. Our farm is deplete of first base prospects, and Van Slyke can smash against lefties. He’s a perfect platoon guy for Gonzalez, or Ethier and Crawford.
Andre Ethier is less expensive, but also less productive. Numbers indicate he is a better defender than Kemp, but doesn’t do anything great. He struggles against lefties, but shows some pop from time to time. He is the first player in our teams history with seven consecutive seasons with 30 or more doubles. He won’t get there this year because of our plethora of outfielders. He can’t get on the field as much as he should and a change of scenery would probably be best for him. He would do well with the short porch in right at Fenway.
We know trading Ethier would cost a lot of money, and we would probably have to throw in a decent prospect to make it work.
Peters: Yeah, I find Kemp the most intriguing, but there are so many questions (his contract, his defense, his clubhouse demeanor) that make me don’t see him as a risk worth taking. And while the Red Sox don’t want Crawford, it’s nowhere near the level that Crawford doesn’t want the Red Sox. I think just the thought of being approached by the Boston media is enough to make Carl start feverishly counting toothpicks and demanding that Juan Uribe tape every episode of Wapner for him.
So if the Sox can’t get Pederson, Ethier is still an intriguing option…as long as Sox fans have their expectations in check. The 2010 All-Star who put up .292/.364/.493 and 23 HR is nevah, evah gonna come back. But I also don’t think that the weak hitting outfielder hitting .248/.315/.374 is all to expect either. Somewhere in between, a mediocre outfielder hitting .260-ish with double-digit home runs, is probably about right. And, if the Red Sox only use him in a platoon, he could be quite useful. That way they get the righty-mashing Ethier (.313/.401/.491 in the last three years) and can do away with the guy who can’t touch lefties (.221/.271/.325).
At 32, he’s no spring chicken, and the Dodgers are going to have to eat a bit of that contract, but it’s a start. What areas do Los Angeles need patched up for their playoff run?
Campos: Glad you asked. We need help in the bullpen and in the rotation.
Our bullpen is struggling mightily. Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell have been great this season, but after them it’s a mess. Brian Wilson has been underperforming, and Chris Perez and Paul Maholm have been performing basically how we expected them to. Brandon League has been performing greatly, but he’s been awful the last two years and I still don’t know if I trust him in the seventh inning of a playoff game.
The top of our rotation is excellent but the back end is concerning. Josh Beckett is pitching through injuries and has been less great lately. Dan Haren has been awful and is less than 60 innings away from a vesting option kicking in and making us pay him $10 million next season.
Thirdly, we could do with a bit of some youth at catcher, preferably one who can hit. Even with their defensive prowess, AJ Ellis and Drew Butera aren’t exactly scaring NL West pitchers. With no one in the farm really shining, is their a young Red Sox catcher who can provide some upside?
Peters: Well Alex, I think I can we can help you on all three fronts. Here’s my opening proposal.
Boston Red Sox receive: Andre Ethier, cash, OF prospect
Los Angeles Dodgers receive: Felix Doubront, Alex Wilson, Dan Butler
Doubront desperately needs out of Boston, where he’s been caught between the starting rotation and the bevy of pitching prospects on the way, and he’s outwardly expressed his anger at his situation, as he’s basically been relegated to mop-up duty in already-lost games. But this is also an extremely cheap, left-handed, young pitcher, who can be effective as a reliever (where he was HUGE for the Sox in the ALCS/WS last year). Put him in the Dodgers pen next to JP Howell (as the second lefty instead of Paul Maholm) and you could also have him spot start should Josh Beckett or Dan Haren’s wheels fall off. He’s made a lot of fuss about not starting in Boston, but I think, seeing how different the rotation situations are between the Sox and the Dodgers, he knows he’ll have a better chance of getting a full-time spot in LA.
Should Doubront go to the rotation, Alex Wilson could be an interesting piece for the bullpen as a long reliever. Despite being put in some truly terrible situations last year as a rookie (which definitely influenced his 4.88 ERA in 26 appearances), he looked pretty good all things considered, and can swallow up a couple innings at a time if necessary. At only 26 he’s got some time to refine his command, and be a useful piece for the future.
As for Dan Butler, while he’s not performing great this year, he was Pawtucket’s MVP last year and get’s along exceedingly well with pitchers (though he’s lost his spot to Christian Vazquez/Blake Swihart). He may never be an All-Star, but, with the Dodgers lineup being as good as it is, he has some upside without taking too much off the table.
You said earlier that the Dodgers might be willing to throw in a prospect in order to dump Ethier, and, if so, the Red Sox could do with an outfielder with some potential around the Double-A level (where they’re a bit bare). I know this is an area where the Dodgers have a lot of depth. Could anyone in that Joey Curletta/Scott Schebler/Jacob Scavuzzo group that might be available?
Campos: I like the idea. A change of scenery, bigger ballpark and weaker hitting division could do good for Doubront. I think the Dodgers should be looking to do just about anything to get Paul Maholm and Chris Perez out of the bullpen. Brian Wilson to a lesser extent, but Scott Elbert has been rehabbing and should be back with the team soon. He’s been a solid lefty guy in the past. But a spot starter could be valuable with Beckett and Haren.
And, if there’s one the the Dodgers have, its available outfielders. I think Schebler is reasonable, even Jacob Scavuzzo could be had most likely. He’s rated higher than Schebler on MLB.com. I would be comfortable hypothetically moving any of the three you mentioned.
I think the final question is, how much money would the Dodgers have to kick in on Ethier? By my count, he is owed $53,500,000 through 2017 and has a 17.5M dollar option in 2018 with a 2.5M dollar buyout, which I would expect to be exercised.
Peters: I’d say I’d rather take Schebler over Scavuzzo, only because he’s a bit more advanced, and the Sox do have some outfielders in Rookie ball but not in Double-A.
As for the money, how about 30 mil? Paying Ethier 8 mil a year is still pretty tough to swallow, but it’s a lot better than 18.
So in the end:
Dodgers get: Felix Doubront, Alex Wilson, Dan Butler
Red Sox get: Andre Ethier, 30 mil, Scott Schebler
Does that work?
Campos: Definitely works on our end. Ethier has been a fan favorite (especially amongst the ladies), but giving him up for a couple low risk decent reward players is definitely good on our end. It’s not the blockbuster fans are hoping for, but I think this is a trade that helps both teams now and in the future.
EDIT: It appears that Doubront is headed to the Cubs. So much for this idea.