Dodgers News: Andrew Friedman Says Teams Have Called About Outfielders
Dodgers News: Andrew Friedman Says Teams Have Called About Outfielders
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Since injuries forced the Los Angeles Dodgers’ hand in promoting Yasiel Puig from Double-A in June 2013, the club has been saddled — and at times benefitted from — having a surplus of outfielders.

Puig’s meteoric rise to stardom earned him regular playing time, which in turn led to Andre Ethier’s role being diminished.

The situation came to a head in 2014 when it was apparent Matt Kemp could no longer man center field. He was benched for a stretch of games in May and soon after placed in left field.

Kemp was unhappy in left, and Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke lacked enough speed to patrol center.

Eventually, the Dodgers moved Yasiel Puig to center field and placed Kemp in right — the position he played when he was drafted by Los Angeles in 2003. Ethier fell out of favor as the Dodgers starting outfield regularly consisted of Carl Crawford, Kemp and Puig.

With Joc Pederson expected to assume a larger role in 2015, the Dodgers traded Kemp to the San Diego Padres last December. While the outfield situation remained crowded, it sorted itself out due to players suffering injury.

Speaking from Major League Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the club is open to trading an outfielder and added teams have called to check in, via ESPN’s Mark Saxon:

Friedman said the team remains open to trading one of its outfielders and that teams have been inquiring frequently on them. That stands to reason with free agents such as Jason Heyward and Justin Upton likely looking for nine-figure contracts. “As those prices are going up, teams are reaching out more,” Friedman said.

While the Dodgers may be willing to take away from some of their excess in the outfield, Friedman is aware the depth has been of value:

“We’re open to ways to improve and, obviously, there are a lot of different ways to do that, but we saw firsthand how valuable that depth was last year,” Friedman said.

According to several reports, Jason Heyward agreed to an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Chicago Cubs on Friday. In terms of the Dodgers, they were speculated to last month have discussed a sending the Cleveland Indians an everyday outfielder in exchange for a starting pitcher.

One week later, it was reported Crawford was available, and Ethier and Puig were possibilities to join him on the trading block. Amid speculation the Dodgers were willing to trade Puig, they reportedly fielded calls about the enigmatic outfielder.

The Dodgers would face a multitude of challenges in attempting to trade any of the three aforementioned outfielders.

Ethier is coming off a career season in which he hit .294/.366/.486 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, 53 RBIs, a .366 wOBA and 137 wRC+, but he’s also entering his age-34 season. Moreover, he’s owed $18 million next season and $17.5 million in 2017.

Ethier’s contract includes a $17.5 million club option for 2018 with a $2.5 million buyout. On April 21, he will reach 10 full years of Major-League service time, with the last five seasons spent with the Dodgers.

At that point he’ll become a 10-and-5 player and hold the right to refuse any trade. Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said at the general manager meetings that Ethier factored into the club’s plans moving forward.

Meanwhile, Crawford is coming off another injury-plagued season that correlated with a drop in production. He’ll turn 34 years old in August, will earn $20.75 million next season and $21 million in 2017. His contract includes a clause that permits Crawford to block a trade to two clubs.

Puig, while much younger than Crawford and Ethier, is coming off a down season. He played in a career-low 79 games, batting .255/.322/.436 with 11 home runs, 12 doubles, 38 RBIs, a .328 woBA, 111 wRC+ and 66 strikeouts to 26 walks in 311 plate appearances.

Puig is also the subject of an MLB investigation after he allegedly got physical with his sister and punched a bouncer outside a Miami bar last month. Plus, questions about his character and work ethic continue to persist, further magnified by an ex-teammate offering a critical assessment of the 25 year old.

Friedman said earlier this month he believes Puig can play an integral role for the Dodgers when healthy, and more recently said he’s pleased with Puig’s progress in preparing for the rigors that come with playing a full season.