Fangraphs had this article up about Andre Ethier being available yesterday, and it mentioned Jeff Francoeur and the Royals because the Royals obviously need an every day right fielder. I have to be honest, when I saw the article title I immediately started dreaming about Ethier roaming right and hitting in the five spot. There is only one problem, and that is the huge contract that he was given in the off season.
The article itself talked about a straight up swap of Ethier for Francoeur. That is not something the Royals should do despite the huge gain it would have for this year and probably the next couple. As we all know, Francoeur is in the last year of his deal with the Royals at $7.5 million this year. Pro-rated since we are a quarter of the way through the season that means he is still owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.6 million. Andre Ethier on the other hand is inked through 2017 when he will be 35 years old, and an option on 2018 that I assume will end up being bought out. The total deal is for $85 million (assuming said buyout) minus what he has been paid this year.
Based on recent results he is a 2 to 3 WAR player right now, so for this year an extra $6 million or so would be worth it. Next year’s $15.5 million is probably also okay. The problem is in 2015 this becomes $18 million for a 33 year old player who wasn’t that great in is peak, and you are still on the hook for 2016 and 2017 as well. All of this leads me to a figure of around $40 million or so that I would be willing to pick up on Ethier. After pro-rating this year and taking out Frenchy’s cost for the rest of the year, Ethier is still owed $76 million, almost double what I would be willing to pay him in a vacuum. We are not in a vacuum though.
If this year and next year are considered very important to the Royals, and it seems they are, and we consider player value inflation, then I could reasonably see Ethier’s total worth to the Royals increase into the $55 to $60 million range. So the first question then becomes will the Dodgers eat $15+ million on a contract that was signed about a year ago to get Yasiel Puig to the bigs. If they are, then I would do this. A way to make it more palatable to them would be to have them pay parts of his contract in 2015, 16, and 17 since before that what he will be making is reasonable. Then the second question is how big of a payroll the Royals can have, and isn’t that always one of the questions?