Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dodgers to sign Andre Ethier to 5-year, $85 million contract extension

Word broke during Monday night's game the Dodgers and Andre Ethier had reportedly agreed to a 5-year, $85 million contract extension.

The deal also includes a vesting sixth-year option. Here's the year-by-year breakdown:
  • 2013: $13.5 million
  • 2014: $15.5 million
  • 2015: $18 million
  • 2016: $18 million
  • 2017: $17.5 million
  • 2018: $17.5 million ($2.5 million buyout)
That's quite the haul for a guy who, before this season, was expected to play his last in Los Angeles. Everything he had ever said in the media made me (and others, I'm sure) believe Ethier didn't want to play in L.A. for the rest of his career.

This contract might not keep him in L.A. the rest of his career, but it will certainly keep him locked up through the most productive seasons he has remaining.

Now, I had written in the past -- a few times -- I thought the Dodgers should either trade Ethier or how I thought things weren't going to end well with this relationship. Then last month, I warmed up to the idea of extending Ethier, but not for an outrageous price.

Here was my suggestion:
"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)"
So, not that far off.

One area of concern is Ethier's walk rate. He's only walking 7.4 percent of the time this season. That's down from 10.5 last year, 10.1 the year before that and 10.5 the year before that. Not sure what to make of it, other than he doesn't have a lot of protection behind him and he's been protecting Matt Kemp (when Kemp's been healthy).

I wouldn't be too concerned about it, but it's something to keep an eye on going forward.

Ethier is playing right field at the moment, but he should be in let field before too long. Don't let last year's Gold Glove fool you: Ethier is destined for left field. He's better off there, anyway. His arm plays better there, too.

Career UZR (according to FanGraphs):
  • LF: -1.6
  • RF: -6.2 (better because of the last two seasons)
If Ethier plays out the entire deal with Los Angeles, he'll become the third $100-million man to don Dodger Blue (Kevin Brown, Kemp).

Is Ethier a $100-plus million player? Probably not. But teams often have to pony up a little extra cash to keep their own free agents from hitting the free agent market (Adam Jones, Matt Cain, Joey Votto -- in Votto's case, a lot of extra cash).

With the lack of quality free agents available next winter (Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera), the Dodgers needed to get Ethier locked up. Especially since Kemp wants him to stay around.

Final analysis: Overpaid, but not grossly. The deal was necessary and it's another item for new ownership to remove from its "To Do List."

#####

Twitter is great. It let's us know all the latest and greatest. In this case, it appears two more Dodger draft picks have signed.

Joey Curletta
"Just signed with the dodgers!"
 Zachary Bird
"@truebluela 9th rounder good to see HS picks signing."
Nice to see the Dodgers nab a couple more of their high school picks from the first 10 rounds. I'm betting neither signed for less than slot, but we'll see.


Photo credit: McD22, Flickr

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