Coming to a Seattle Starbucks near you … Andre Ethier?


Might Andre Ethier be taking his walk-off exploits to rainy Seattle in 2013?

The Seattle Mariners have become those annoying telemarketing calls that you just can’t seem to get rid of for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

You know the ones – you never answer the calls because they flash “Unknown Caller” on your phone. You also get on the “No-Call List,” but those telemarketing piranhas still don’t stop.

Well, the Mariners are at it again with the Andre Ethier trade talk. Oh, you won’t see anything on the Seattle Mariners official website about the Ethier-to-Seattle trade talk. You probably won’t even find it in the Seattle newspapers – the Seattle Times or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer … but it’s there!

Here is what we do know:

• The Dodgers have allegedly said they are open to listening to talk about trading Ethier. MLB Trade Rumors and almost every major sports site – ESPN, CBS Sportsline, Yahoo!, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated – has reported something this offseason about the Dodgers throwing caution to the wind that they are willing to entertain thoughts about letting Ethier go for the right price.

• The Seattle Mariners need a power bat – Hey, Mariners fans! Tell me how much it makes your pulse quicken to think of one-third of your outfield being comprised of Casper Wells/Raul Ibanez/Jason Bay? Ibanez is a great bench player and occasional fill-in at the DH spot, but anyone who thinks he’s an everyday outfielder is smoking some Washington leafy green “medicine.” Bay has been a train wreck for the past four years, and there’s no reason to think he’ll change in 2013.

Wells is a 28-year-old career minor-leaguer who is a .246 lifetime hitter and who has struck out an average of almost once every three times at the plate.

Wow, after reading about what Seattle has for its third outfield spot, it makes me want them to flash the “Ethier Signal” in the sky and call the Dodgers … and I’m not even a Mariners fan!

The Dodgers don’t need to trade Ethier. They probably don’t even really want to trade him. After all, why would you trade a guy who has averaged 18 homers, 76 RBIs and a .290 batting average over his seven-year career with the Dodgers?

Why? Because a good team is always looking for ways to improve.

The Dodgers need a true leadoff hitter. They need a guy who can consistently get on base and who can steal a bag to set the table for Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez.

If the Dodgers trade Ethier to the Mariners, they won’t be able to get that impact leadoff hitter that they need. But they can use the Ethier trade to clear some salary space so that they can pursue free agent center fielder Michael Bourn.

Bourn is still roaming around the free agent market looking for a home. Bourn has stolen no fewer than 40 bases each year since 2007. In fact, over the past five seasons Bourn has averaged 51.4 stolen bases each year.

You obviously don’t just give away talent, so what remains to be explained in this equation is just what the Dodgers might be able to get in return from Seattle for Ethier. Here are some of those trade candidates with the Mariners:

Third baseman Kyle Seager The Dodgers have a hole at third. Unproven utility player Luis Cruz is in line to play the bulk of third base for the Dodgers in 2013. The 28-year-old Cruz has only played a total of 156 games in the majors over his four-year career. He might be good, and he might not. The 25-year-old Seager hit 20 homers and drove in 86 runs in 2012 for the Mariners, his first full season in the bigs. If I were Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, I would start with Seager in any Ethier negotiations.

Third baseman Vinnie Catricala – The 24-year-old Catricala only had a .229 batting average last season in his first stint at triple-A, but he did hit 10 homers and drive in 60 runs. In 2011, Catricala smacked 25 homers, drove in 106 runs and had a .349 batting average at single-A and double-A.

Catcher Jesus Montero Montero was the centerpiece for the Mariners in the Michael Pineda trade last year, so he may be untouchable. However, it would be nice for the Dodgers to land the 23-year-old catcher for Ethier. In his first full season for the Mariners in 2012 in a DH role, Montero hit 15 homers, drove in 62 runs and had a .260 average. However, Montero has a career .304 batting average in five minor league seasons.

Pitcher Taijuan Walker – The 20-year-old Walker is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Seattle organization by Baseball America. At double-A in 2012, Walker went 7-10 with a 4.69 ERA, but he did strike out 118 batters in 126 innings.

Left-handed pitchers Danny Hultzen and James Paxton – Who can’t use left-handed pitchers? (That’s a trick question!). Rated Nos. 3 and 4 (respectively) in the Seattle organization, either of these pitchers could help the Dodgers. The 23-year-old Hultzen went 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA at double-A and triple-A for the Mariners last season. In three minor league seasons in the Mariners organization, the 24-year-old Paxton has gone 16-9 with a 2.84 ERA, with 259 strikeouts in 219 innings.

So, before any Seattle fans hit me up and tell me that I’m nuts for thinking that Montero or Walker or anyone else I mentioned is available, calm down. My point is that the Mariners have some attractive minor league players, as well as Seager at third base on the big club, who could make things interesting in getting a trade done with the Dodgers for Ethier.

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  1. If the Dodgers send Ethier to Seattle, it should be for young pitching. Seager would be good, but Seattle wouldn’t benefit enough to make that trade. Catricala could be at best a minor piece. Montero needs to be in the AL. The Mariners want his bat but don’t trust him to catch, and this offseason they told him to work on speed and athleticism, because he lacks both. What would the Dodgers do with a hitter who can’t play a position and is a mediocre athlete?

    A good trade would be Capuano and Ethier for a couple of those young pitchers, plus another prospect or two.

  2. In a universe where the Mariners have a train wreck for a third outfield position with a platoon of Jason Bay and Casper Wells, and possibly Raul Ibanez. The Mariners are the ones continually asking the Dodgers about Ethier, which is another testament to the fact that they know they need a power bat in the outfield.
    Underwater mortgages don’t exist in the Guggenheim world in which the Dodgers now operate. The Dodgers could trade Ethier and pick up some of his salary in order to get the right pieces in place to acquire a third baseman and/or leadoff hitter that they need.

  3. Andre Ethier is owed $85 million over the next five years. If Ethier were a mortgage, he’d be underwater.

    Kyle Seager, who is five-and-a-half years younger than Ethier, was valued at 3.6 WAR* last year — topping Ethier’s single-season career high — and remains under his team’s control for five years, including the next two seasons at the league minimum salary of about $500,000.

    In what universe would Andre Ethier represent a better value than Kyle Seager?
    * Wins Above Replacement as reported at FanGraphs

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