Dodgers Trade Rumors: Torii Hunter to Join L.A? Andre Ethier Out?

Torii Hunter has played 15 years in the MLB.
Torii Hunter has played 15 years in the MLB. Reuters

No team was more active in the 2012 MLB season than the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, it appears they are ready to make some major moves in the offseason.

According to ESPN, L.A. has contacted Torii Hunter about joining the club. The team has approached the free agent about signing a two-year contract.

Hunter, who has spent the last five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, is one of the best available hitters on the market. At 37 years old, he won’t command a very big salary. Still, Hunter could be a very big asset for the Dodgers in 2013.

In his 15th professional season, Hunter had a career-high batting average, hitting .313. He drove in 92 runs, his best RBI total since 2007, and registered his best WAR at 5.5.

If Hunter decides to play for the Dodgers, he’ll be joining a somewhat crowded outfield. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford are all under contract for at least five more years. However, all three have questions surrounding them, going into next season.

Both Kemp and Crawford have injury concerns. Kemp should be ready for Opening Day 2013, but he underwent shoulder surgery at the end of this past season. His missed 56 games and doctors were surprised to see how damaged his shoulder actually was.

Crawford’s injury is more serious. Los Angeles acquired him from the Boston Red Sox after he underwent Tommy John Surgery on his left elbow. He could also be ready by spring training, but it could take the outfielder nine months to make a full recovery.

Hunter would act as an insurance policy for either one of the Dodgers injured outfielders. Even if Crawford is able to play most of the 2013 season, he still has to prove that he can be a productive starter. Crawford was barely able to do so in his time with the Red Sox.

Ethier is healthy, but there’s a chance he won’t play for the Dodgers at all in 2013. If both Kemp and Crawford are on track to be ready to start the year, ESPN is reporting that L.A. might trade Ethier.

It might come as a surprise if the Dodgers deal Ethier. He recently signed a five-year contract extension with the club, and had a very productive 2012 season, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 89 runs.

With an influx of outfielders, Los Angeles might see this as an opportunity to acquire another front of the rotation starter. Coming off an MVP-type season in 2011, Kemp is expected to stick around L.A. for a long time. Crawford is practically untradeable, with one of the worst contracts in baseball.

The Dodgers might be able to package Ethier for a legitimate No. 2 starter. After Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers lack an elite starter. Trading Ethier might help them land a top of the line, albeit pricey, starting pitcher.

The market for free agent starting pitchers is very scarce this offseason. Other than Zack Greinke, there isn’t a viable, top tier starter available. Hiroki Kuroda has been a suggested target by the Dodgers, but he will turn 38 in February. Trading Ethier might be the Dodgers' best chance to bolster their rotation.

Hunter stated in a recent interview that he would sign with a new team fairly quickly. The New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Seattle Mariners are among other teams that have expressed interest in the Angels star.

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