SF Giants News

San Francisco Giants: Make Andre Ethier an offer he can’t refuse

By Mark ONeill
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The San Francisco Giants remain in need of a quality starting left fielder, and though there is ample time to fill the position, the available pool of talent has dwindled. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the opposite problem, having a surplus of outfielders who fit the criteria of qualified to play in an MLB setting. In point of fact they are in a house-clearing frame of mind that has piqued an intense interest from Around the Foghorn as to the possible acquisition of Andre Ethier.

Additionally, LA has already jettisoned three players with hefty contracts, while absorbing 57 million dollars of their owed salaries, including 9.5 million of Brian Wilson’s contract. Whereas the bearded one, formerly the closer for the Orange and Black, is of no interest to Giants GM Brian Sabean in filling his right-handed relief pitchers slot, now that Sergio Romo is signed, one of those excess LA outfielders has been lurking in the background of the parameters of this site’s imagination since the season ended.

At one point in his career, Andre Ethier, a fiery player who has always displayed grit and determination, earned his place at the head of the Giants-killers’ list through a series of clutch hits against them.

Andre Ethier elevated the term “clutch” to dizzying heights.

Nicknamed Captain Clutch after the season early on in his career in which he amassed six walk-off base hits during the course of the season, he would fit into the San Francisco Giants’ scheme of things quite well.

He had his worst year of his career last season as a part time role-player in a crowded outfield. He hit four home runs and though he must have been seething inside from his lack of playing time/respect, he toed the party line because he felt his team had a genuine chance to go all the way.

Ethier is intriguing because he is a well-balanced player who has been devastatingly effective in past seasons. His career credentials include  Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards and in a park like AT&T, power numbers do not play as great of a role as the ability to spray the ball.

The biggest concern would simply be, how capable is Ethier of playing left field, after manning right field at Chavez Ravine so much of his past? In his career on the MLB level Ethier has played in 234 games as a left fielder, 172 as a stater. He made a total of nine errors in this role for a .973 fielding percentage, versus a .990 fielding percentage as a right fielder.

Oct 19, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) makes a sliding catch against the St. Louis Cardinals during game five of the 2012 NLCS at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

There is a measurable difference but the Giants already have Hunter Pence in right at AT&T Park, an inordinately challenging position because of the park’s unique configuration, so left field it is. Interestingly enough, Ethier has also played in 143 games in center field, 127 of them as a starter. That’s a lot of versatility.

A long history of Dodgers/Giants players swapping teams exists so there are ample precedents in place; in this instance there is added motivation on both sides to get creative.

Ethier is 32 years old with a multi-year contract of three remaining years, which includes a salary in the neighborhood of 18 million dollars per season. The Giants were unwilling to resign Michael Morse who ended up signing a two-year contract worth twelve million dollars. From this site’s perspective, it would seem advantageous for Sabean to propose a compromise to both clubs’ dilemmas.

Suppose the Giants offered to split the eighteen large, meaning Ethier would cost around nine million per season and LA picked up the other half of his salary. That would solve the Giants’ left field gap, while helping clear out the logjam in the outfield for the Dodgers.

Any suggestion that Ethier has lost what once made him an intimidating presence on the Dodgers can certainly be entertained, but the reality is that Andre Ethier was once one of the most formidable weapons in a highly competitive Dodger lineup, and there is no reason why he would not fit in somewhere among Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Pence.

It’s time for Brain Sabean to make LA an offer it cannot refuse.

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