Earlier in the week, I discussed the possiblity of trading prospects for the Miami Marlins’ right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, to mixed reactions. Some believe the cost in prospects for Giancarlo Stanton is not worth the positives in power and presence he would bring. Obviously, I don’t agree but…I am ever willing to take a look at other players that might improve the Royals. How about Andre Ethier? The Royals may be able to acquire Etiher for nothing more than Jeff Francoeur. Who would be on board with that?
On Wednesday, Dave Cameron published an excellent piece discussing Ethier, Don Mattingly, and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Fangraphs. He discussed the seemingly contentiousness between player and manager and he speculated that Ethier could be had without teams giving up much. He even speculated on a Francoeur-for-Ethier swap. According to Cameron,t he Dodgers are probably anxious enough that they would be willing to eat a very large chunk of Ethier’s remaining albatross of a contract. Going into 2013, the contract will pay Ethier $85 million through 2017. That is quite a hunk of change.
Knowing the frugality of the Glass family, the Dodgers would have to eat a substantial sum of money for the Royals to be a viable trading partner. Cameron speculated on how the Dodgers could throw in enough of the payment to make a it worth a team’s while to consider a trade. The Royals are certainly going to ask for at LEAST $40 million in compensation, especially on the back end of this deal. The Dodgers would have to agree to pay most of the $53.5 million due Either in 2015, 2016, and 2017 (as well they should for offering such an idiotic deal in the first place).
Andre Ethier just turned 31-years old a few weeks ago. It is not like he is way over the hill or anything. While he has seen a downturn in his Slugging Percentage since the end of 2010, his On-Base Percentage has never dropped below .350. He will not offer a massive amount of home runs but he has averaged 21 over his past 5 seasons. His swing will fit in nicely with the Royals as he is a doubles machine, averaging over 35 a season for the past 6 seasons. Last year, he hit 20 home runs, 36 doubles, 79 runs, and 89 RBI. He doesn’t seem as if he is done as a hitter.
Ethier has always been a good line drive hitter with a LD% of 22.7 for his career. He has a nice balance of grounds balls (41.4%) and fly balls (35.9%) and he does own nice home run-to fly ball ration of 12.3 for his career. When he does hit fly balls, they leave the park at an acceptable rate. He also shows discipline – his career mark for base on balls percentage is 9.6% (Francoeur’s is only 5%), and his K% is 17.1% (Frenchy’s is 18.2%).
In an effort to see just how big an improvement Ethier would be over Francoeur, even a quick glimpse at their slashes will tell you all you need to know. Ethier’s career slash is .289/.362/.473/.835; Francoeur’s is .265/.308/.423/.731. It isn’t even close. Frangraphs has Frenchy’s career WAR at 7.4, and Ethier’s is at 18, with 140 fewer games. Francoeur is just about 2 years younger but he is not getting any better.
If the Royals can get the Dodgers to pick up about $45-$50 million of Ethier’s contract, especially on the back end, I think it is a no-brainer (In his article, Cameron also discusses what the Dodgers may be willing to pay.). If Kansas City can get a productive right fielder for around $10 million a year, they should seriously consider it. Ethier’s numbers have not significantly slipped enough to think he is done. Although his second half of 2012 is a bit worrisome, it was still better than Francoeur all the time. Ethier is a viable option to improve the stagnant offense of the Royals without surrendering more prospects to do it. Yes, there are cash considerations, as well as long term roster ramifications, but for the rest of this season and 2014, Ethier is an upgrade for the Royals, and they have nothing in the minor league pipeline that will be ready to contribute over the next couple of seasons.
We all know how much Dayton Moore loves his Jeff Francoeur but it is time to cut those strings. It is obvious the Royals offense is struggling. How about doing more than pay lip service to wanting to win, and go make a move? Moore could make worse moves than this.