Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The outfield logjam could soon be cleared

Reports are surfacing in recent days that the Dodgers are finally serious about clearing up their crowded outfield.  According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the main goal of president Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi at the General Managers' meetings is to move an outfielder.

Or two, maybe.

Right now, the Dodgers have four main guys (Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford) and one rising prospect (Joc Pederson).

With that said, let's take a look at each one.  In addition to their 2014 stats and remaining money owed, I'll discuss the pros and cons of each player, along with the possibility of each being moved.

Yasiel Puig
2014: 148 G, .296 AVG, .382 OBP, 37 2B, 9 3B, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 11 SB, 5.3 OWAR
Remaining Contract: Four years, $24 million

Pros: Simply put, when Puig puts his total game together, it's hard to find many who are better.  He can hit, run, and throw all at a very high level, which only guys like Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen can claim to do.  His power was down this year, but he's shown in the past that he can certainly straighten that out.  He can hit anywhere in the order thanks to his speed.  And on defense, opposing runners are largely learned not to test his arm.  At 24 next season, the sky is still the limit.

Cons: There's always going to be questions about his maturity, as he showed way back in the first home game of the season that he can be hard to be relied upon when he was late to the park and scratched from the lineup.  A big swing shows his reluctance to get adjusted at the plate, as he was completely lost for nearly all of the NLDS.  Is he too stubborn to make changes?  That's still a question that lingers.

Trade Him?  Nope, I just can't see it happening.  There's way too much talent in that body, and for a team that desires to get younger, it's hard to imagine them getting rid of a chip like him.

Matt Kemp
2014: 150 G, .287 AVG, .346 OBP, 38 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 89 RBI, 8 SB, 3.8 OWAR
Remaining Contract: Five years, $107 million

Pros: It looked like it took awhile, but he finally reached a point in his recovery from all sorts of injuries where he put it all together in the second half of 2014.  He turned himself back into an MVP-type player, as the ball was jumping off of his bat.  He also found a home in right field after being so reluctant to switch from center.  It worked, as he was a huge reason why the Dodgers claimed the NL West.

Cons: With his recent success is also a reminder not to get too excited, as we've seen this before.  Fair or not, he's an injury-prone player, and when he's hurt, he's very easy to pitch to.  It's unknown if he'll ever be ready to be an effective center fielder again, as he's made it crystal clear that that's where he sees himself playing again.

Trade Him?  After watching him come back to life this past season, it's hard to see it happening.  Then again, maybe this is the time to get something good back for him if the Dodgers think he's already peaked.  I'm sure they would rather keep him, but if the offer is there, I bet they pull the trigger.

Carl Crawford
2014: 105 G, .300 AVG, .339 OBP, 14 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 23 SB, 2.3 OWAR
Remaining Contract: Three years, $62.25 million

Pros: After battling his way back from injuries, he showed that he still has some magic back in that bat.  It's not as much, but much like Kemp, when he's locked in and feeling good, he can be an effective piece in the lineup.  He can still steal a base as well, albeit not at the humongous rate like he once did.

Cons: He'll turn 34 next August, but seems like he's much older.  His career has gone downhill since signing that mega-contract with the Red Sox back in 2011, which is the same contract the Dodgers must now deal with.  At this point he's a decent outfielder and a pretty good bad when healthy, but has not played in more than 116 games the last three seasons.

Trade Him?  Absolutely.  The Dodgers would love to make it happen, but it will come at a price.  Nonetheless, I would think they'd be OK with that, as he's obviously on the wrong side of his career, but can maybe still get something decent in return.

Andre Ethier
2014: 130 G, .249 AVG, .322 OBP, 17 2B, 6 3B, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 2 SB, 0.8 OWAR
Remaining Contract: Three years, $56 million

Pros: Ethier got squeezed out by the logjam more than anyone, but has won both a Gold Glove (2011) and Silver Slugger (2009) in the past, which could earn him a starting job somewhere.  He can play any outfield position pretty well, as he originally took over for Kemp in center back in May.  Is much more effective against right-handed hurlers.

Cons: Another guy who's past the magic age of 30 (will be 33 next April), and isn't looked at as "Andre the Giant" like he once was.  What hurts him even more is his atrocious numbers against left-handed pitchers, as he's all but useless against them.  His power numbers are practically a thing of the past.

Trade Him?  Just like Crawford, absolutely.  In Ethier's case, it would appear to be an easier move, as he's a little younger, healthier, and has a slightly more manageable contract.  He's given LA many good moments, but it's time to move on, which is something I bet he wants more than anyone.

Joc Pederson
2014: 18 G, .143 AVG, .351 OBP, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, -0.1 OWAR
Remaining Contract: ? (No information found)

Pros: Right now, we're judging him solely on his work in the minors.  Luckily for him, he did some very impressive things down on the farm, including 33 homers and 30 steals in Triple-A last season.  He also plays some great defense, as he's already been viewed as the next center fielder for years to come.  All in all, he has largely been considered the next big thing for the Dodgers.

Cons: The funny thing about potential is that you haven't actually done anything yet.  He still will get plenty of time to, but in his brief stint in LA during September, the game looked to be a little too big for him.  Granted, it's a very small sample size with only 28 at-bats, but no extra-base hits shows he has plenty of work left to do.

Trade Him?  No way.  There's too much untapped talent to move him now.  The management team before Friedman took over did not want to move him, and I can't imagine that changing now.

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