Before we get any further, let's take a look at Andre Ethier's career numbers, which may not be familiar to Indians fans:
Playing so many games in Dodger Stadium deflates his offensive numbers a bit, but you can see from his OPS+ numbers over the years that he's been a well above average hitter. Ethier's RC+ (a similar stat which more heavily weighs on-base percentage) for recent seasons is just as solid: 132 (2010), 122 (2011), 124 (2012).
Clearly, he's been a very solid offensive player. Among outfielders with at least 1,000 PA over the last three years, Ethier ranks 16th in OPS+ and 17th in RC+. Neither Baseball-Reference nor Fangraphs has loved his defense over the years, but he's rated better in the last couple seasons than he did earlier in his career.
His bWAR figures for the last three years: 1.7 (2010), 2.1 (2011), 3.5 (2012)
His fWAR figures for the last three years: 2.3 (2010), 2.9 (2011), 3.4 (2012)
I'd put him outside the top 25 outfielders in baseball, but within the top 40. Whether the Indians trade Shin-Soo Choo before losing him to free agency or not, there's obviously a need here in Cleveland for a corner outfielder, and Ethier has been a good one.
There are two rubs against Ethier, as I see it:
1) He'll be 31 years old next season, meaning his best seasons are probably behind him. The Indians should probably be looking to acquire players who are still on their way up.
2) He's signed through 2017 at a total of $82.5 million (with a vesting option in 2018 for $17.5 million). That's a whole lot of money over five years, probably more than he's been worth over the last five (when again, he was probably in his prime).
There are outfield options in free agency, and while very few of them are as good as Ethier, they're also going to be less expensive. I'm not sure what the Dodgers would be looking to get back in a trade (though I know their young shortstop, Dee Gordon has been a mess), and it's also not clear at this point if L.A. is willing to foot some of the bill for Ethier.
Because of his age and the cost of acquiring him (both in money and in trade assets), Ethier is not particularly appealing to me. I'd rather have Justin Upton if we're trading for someone good, and I think they can fill the need through free agency if need be.
What are your thoughts? Does Ethier interest you? If so, what would you be willing to see the Indians part with in order to get him? How much salary are you comfortable with the Tribe taking on?