Even with Joc Pederson struggling through much of the second half last season, and Yasiel Puig being limited to a career-low 79 games, they both figure to start on a regular basis in center and right field, respectively, in 2016.
Meanwhile, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are vying for regular at-bats in left field. It’s a position Ethier is all-too-familiar with, as over the past few seasons he was often the odd man out.
That changed drastically last year however, as the veteran helped fill the void left by Crawford and Puig. Due to an oblique injury that required a lengthy stint on the disabled list, Crawford managed to play in just 69 games.
Again part of a crowded Dodgers outfield picture, Ethier reported for Spring Training with the same mindset he entered camp with last year — his desire remains to play every day.
Playing time may be not be difficult to come by for Ethier as Crawford said he was told he will not be the starting left fielder, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“They told me there will be a lot of at-bats for me, but ‘Dre starts, and he’s earned it,” said Crawford, who went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs in Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Giants. “I’ll get spot starts and be ready to pinch-hit for the pitcher a lot. That’s pretty much it — just be ready to come off the bench.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has yet to publicly announce such news. Ethier lost out to Pederson in a competition last spring for the starting job in center field. Ethier reportedly drew trade interest during the offseason, though Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi refuted the notion the club was looking to trade the soon-to-be-34-year-old.
More recently, Zaidi said the Dodgers are not concerned by Ethier earning a no-trade clause by becoming a 10-and-5 player. Ethier will earn the right to veto a deal by reaching 10 years of Major-League service time, including the last five with the Dodgers, on April 21.
Ethier is owed $18 million this season, $17.5 million in 2017, and his contract includes $17.5 million club option in 2018 with a $2.5 million buyout. He batted .294/.366/.486 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, 53 RBIs, had a .366 wOBA and 137 wRC+ over 142 games last season.