Andre Ethier trade rumors: Dodgers 'shopping' sounds a lot like listening

The Dodgers have been quite loud in their dismissal of Andre Ethier trade requests. - Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

The Dodgers say they have zero intention of moving the right fielder, but have listened to inquiries from other teams about the two-time All-Star.

It is the Christmas shopping season, so perhaps it's only fitting that the Dodgers are "shopping" Andre Ethier. At least that was the adjective used by both Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

But there is a difference between shopping and listening, and it appears the Dodgers are doing far more of the latter at this point. From Rosenthal:

However, one official with knowledge of the Dodgers’ thinking says that the talks about Ethier originated from inquiries by two American League clubs, and that the Dodgers are not actively pursuing a deal.

The official adds that the renewed interest in Ethier stems from the shrinking pool of available hitters on both the free-agent and trade markets

The Dodgers have "zero intention" of trading Ethier, the official said, but will listen to offers. The discussions, to this point, have failed to progress.

Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Attack Page says he's almost certain those two AL teams were the Mariners and Rangers, so we can fill in the blanks from there.

The Dodgers need a third baseman, so it would be natural for Mike Olt or Kyle Seager to be discussed. Perhaps the Rangers would instead be willing to part with second baseman Ian Kinsler, with Elvis Andrus at shortstop and uber prospect Jurickson Profar ready to step in. Kinsler, like Ethier, is signed through 2017 with an option for 2018 (at a guarantee of $75 million compared to Ethier's $85 million). I'm not saying this would be a one-for-one swap, but something for the Dodgers to pursue given that Mark Ellis has one year remaining on his contract and no second base options on the horizon in the Dodgers farm system.

The common assumption seems to be that the Dodgers if they traded Ethier would then sign Nick Swisher, as mentioned by both Rosenthal and Feinsand. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said the Dodgers kicked the tires on Swisher "weeks ago," but that leaves one question.

If the market of hitters is dwindling to the point where teams would give up something for Ethier that the Dodgers would be interested in, why wouldn't those teams just instead sign Swisher?

After all, Swisher is essentially Ethier with better defensive and better platoon splits (i.e. Swisher can hit left-handed pitching), albeit a year and a half older.

It makes perfect sense that the Dodgers would listen to offers for anyone, and even if they were actively shopping Ethier it would still make logical sense even though this ownership group was the one that signed Ethier to his five-year extension in May.

When the Dodgers extended Ethier, that was the first big move of the Guggenheim Partners, a show of good faith if you will. At the time the Dodgers' lineup was essentially Matt Kemp and Ethier with little else (with apologies to on-base maven A.J. Ellis). But since then the lineup has added Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez to the middle of the order, and Carl Crawford to the top, and is much more formidable than a year ago.

If the Dodgers can get something useful for Ethier, they should absolutely do it. But outside of that, just sign Scott Hairston and call it a day.

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