With a new leader in the front office but the Los Angeles Dodgers roster still carrying a surplus of outfielders, Andre Ethier reported to Spring Training last year with a simple message and mindset — he wanted to play every day.
Ethier was coming off a season in which he appeared in 130 games, which was his lowest total since his rookie year with the Dodgers 2006. Batting .249/.322/.370 with just four home runs and 42 RBIs, the veteran outfielder called 2014 the most humbling season of his career.
Heading into 2015, consistent playing time didn’t appear to be in store for Ethier. Yasiel Puig was cemented in right field, Joc Pederson was expected to take over in center, and Carl Crawford was former manager Don Mattingly’s preference in left more times than not.
However, Crawford (oblique strain) and Puig (hamstring strains) both spent a considerable amount of time on the disabled list last season, opening the door for Ethier.
He took advantage of the opportunity and was one of the Dodgers most consistent players over the course of the year. With the renaissance season behind him and Dave Roberts having replaced Mattingly, Ethier told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register his mindset hasn’t changed:
“But I’m going to say it again – I still want to be out there every day, playing every day. That’s where I feel I can settle into the role where I can be best for this team and I can be best playing the way I’m capable of playing. Who knows if that’s the case – but that’s my attitude.”
Although the Chicago White Sox contacted the Dodgers to inquire on Puig, Los Angeles reportedly shifted the focus to Crawford and Ethier. Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi denied the club was shopping Ethier or Puig shortly after the reported trade talks.
Ethier will reach 10 years of Major-League service time, including the last five with the Dodgers, on April 21. As a 10-and-5 player he will earn the right to veto any trade.
Ethier hit .294/.366/.486 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, 53 RBIs, a .366 wOBA and 137 wRC+ in 142 games last season. Ethier will turn 34 years old on April 11 and is the longest tenured Dodger, is owed $18 million this season and $17.5 million in 2017.
His contract includes a $17.5 million club option for 2018 with a $2.5 million buyout. Last November, Zaidi said Ethier factors into the Dodgers’ plans moving forward.