The Dodgers and All-Star right fielder Andre Ethier have agreed to a five-year $85MM extension, according to Jon Heyman. The new extension is also said to have a vesting sixth year option according to Heyman. Dylan Hernandez added that the sixth year option would take the deal to $100MM.
The deal should be finalized sometime today. The contract will pay Ethier $13.5MM in 2013, $15MM in 2014, $18MM in 2015, $18MM in 2016, and $17.5MM in 2017. The option year in 2018 would be for $17.5MM and carries a $2.5MM buyout.
There has been talk of an Ethier extension for several months now, talks really gained some momentum after Guggenheim Baseball took over, here we are about two months later, and the Dodgers secured the other half of the dynamic offensive duo of Kemp and Ethier. Andre has been pretty open about remaining with the Dodgers, he even went as far to keep negotiations in full swing during the season, and never put a deadline on the negotiations.
Ethier has been with the Dodgers for his entire MLB career. 'Dre was traded by the Oakland A's in exchange for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez. The brightest part of Ned Colletti's wheeling and dealings, also his first major move as general manager of the Dodgers. Ethier has gone on to hit a solid .291/.363/.482 slash line in Dodger blue, a Silver Slugger in 2009, a Gold Glove in 2011, and he has been selected as an All-Star for the past two seasons, seemingly destined for his third straight in 2012. The big question with Ethier lies in his durability, he's spent time on the disabled list in each of the past two seasons, playing hurt for a decent amount of time as well.
So was this the right move for the Dodgers? Well it certainly seems like it on the surface, though I know a lot of folks are concerned about 'Dre being injury prone, I tend to disagree. I think except for 2011, Ethier has been one of the more stable and consistent players for the Dodgers over the last several years. 2011 was pretty much a fluke injury, I have no problem discarding it as such. Ethier has been an offensive juggernaut for the Dodgers for years now, he's a much better base runner than most give him credit for, and defensively well he doesn't have a Gold Glove because he's just mediocre. I will agree that there are better defenders out there, but Ethier's defense is constantly improving. Not many have a stronger or more accurate arm than Andre, his range is average at best, but this guy takes some of the best routes in the game.
I do have my concerns as history shows handing out long-term deals to 30-year-old players doesn't usually work out so well. Look at Andre's most comparable list, quite frightening isn't it?
According to Baseball-Reference similarity scores, here are the 10 most comparable players to Andre Ethier through age 29:
1. Dmitri Young
2. Richie Zisk
3. Rondell White
4. Jacque Jones
5. Aubrey Huff
6. Bobby Higginson
7. Corey Hart
8. Ellis Valentine
9. Jim Edmonds
10. Tony Oliva
Stats and facts baby, they never lie, though in this case I sure wish they did. While it's not impossible Ethier could be the exception, it's just hard to argue that when history and stats tell us he won't. The four most similar players to Ethier averaged a total of 53 homers and 204 RBI in their careers from age 31. White was the most successful of the bunch, and he averaged 13 homers and 53 RBI per season in his final five years, but he was also the most injury-prone of the bunch.
That's the risk. I definitely think Ethier can be better than what the above it telling us. I think I am really confident about Ethier and this deal as a whole. I believe this was a necessary signing by the Dodgers, not just because he's the Dodgers second best hitter, but because of what it stands for. This move shows the commitment to the franchise for the first time in over a decade, heck practically two decades.
The Dodgers are committed to winning, not just by going out and spending money frivolously, but building from the ground-up, building around those players, and extending those players during their prime years. There is always risk in every long-term deal that is handed out, but I gotta say I like what I see so far in this new era of the Dodgers. I will agree that the Dodgers will more than likely not get their full value out of this contract, therefore overpaying a bit, but I love that the direction of this team is going towards building a serious championship contender for years to come, rather than patching holes year after year, and having a roster of "when did we get this guy" all over it. The deal gets my seal of approval, with some reservations, but I think this was a good business decision. The best part is Magic and Kasten are just getting started ladies and gentlemen.
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