Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Andre Ethier and a contract extension with new Dodgers' ownership

Andre Ethier: $15 million man?
On this glorious day when the sale of the Dodgers is official, there is scuttlebutt the ownership is looking to hash out a contract extension with Andre Ethier.

Bill Shaikin, L.A. Times:
"Colletti met w Ethier's agent Fri at Dodger Stadium. No deal imminent, but that could be first order of business for new owners."

Jon Heyman, CBS Sports:
"doesnt sound like anythings close with ethier. but with new group in place, chances for deal improve drastically. "
I wrote in June the Dodgers needed to trade Ethier, but I am coming around on the Dodgers giving him an extension. BUT, it needs to be under ideal terms and after more than just a month of good ball.

This is Ethier's stat line through 23 games: .276/.330/.540, five home runs, 24 RBI, six doubles. Those are pretty solid numbers, even if the batting average and on-base percentage are lower than his career averages (.291/.363).

At this time last year, Ethier was absolutely tearing the cover off the ball: .382/.450/.539, two home runs, 13 RBI and eight doubles. We all know what happened the rest of the way (.271/.350/.394 in 112 games).

I'm not saying Ethier is going to regress like that, but I want to see him play at a high level for more than a month before the Dodgers think about extending him. Even though the free agent market is thin in terms of hitters this winter, it wouldn't make any sense to overpay for Ethier.

His power appears to be back and he is hitting left-handed pitching better (.273/.351/.485), which is fantastic. But we have to remember this is a small sample size. Let's see where he is in another month.

So, what kind of deal should he get? That remains to be seen.

He's never been an elite player and he likely never will, so don't worry about Matt Holliday or Jayson Werth money (I recognize they aren't elite players -- although Holliday is good -- but they're getting paid as such).

Ethier is making $10.95 million this season, which is his last under team control. Some Similar Batter scores (according to Baseball-Reference) include Hunter Pence, Brad Hawpe and Corey Hart. Pence and Hart are pretty good comparisons. Hawpe made his living off Coors Field, so I'm not counting him.

Pence, still under team control for one more season, is making $10.4 million this year. There's not telling what he'd get on the open market at this point.

Hart signed a 3-year extension with the Brewers in August 2010. He's making $9 million this season and $10 million the next.

So, where does Ethier fall in here? Well, we have to factor in the fact he just turned 30 and is coming off knee surgery. So far, the knee looks great. But the Dodgers shouldn't give him an extension longer than four guaranteed years.

Here's what I'm thinking (and this is as much as I'd be willing to go, personally):

4 years, $60 million with two options years
2013: $12M, 2014: $13M, 2015: $15M, 2016: $16M, 2017: $16M (option with $2M buyout), 2018: $16M (option with $2M buyout)

The Dodgers would also have to include the usual bonuses for All-Star appearances, Silver Slugger awards and other postseason hardware.

Stan Kasten, the Dodgers' new president, has never been one to dole out huge amounts of money for free agents or his team's own pending free agents, so I'm confident a deal such as this could be worked out between the two.

Contrary to popular (my?) belief, maybe Ethier actually wants to stay in Los Angeles. At this point it could be mutually beneficial.

Matt Kemp wants Ethier to be extended. If Matt Kemp wants it, the Dodgers should make it happen -- on their terms.

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As mentioned above, the new ownership group is officially in and Frank McCourt is official out. Mark Walter, Kasten and Magic Johhnson take over. It's a great day for Dodger fans.

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Here's my latest piece at Chad Moriyama with an excerpt. It's about the resurgence of Ethan Martin and if he can keep it up.
"There has been no harsher critic of Ethan Martin than myself.

While I once rated him as the Dodgers second-best prospect, he has since fallen flat on his face and my rankings have reflected that. This season, however, he’s showing signs of putting it all together for the first time as a professional baseball player."

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