Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 5/8/12

Andre Ethier will be the first major question for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ new ownership. The 30-year-old outfielder will become a free-agent at the end of the season, and he has recently indicated that he would be willing to sign an extension with the club.

Since 2006, Ethier has emerged as a mainstay in the Dodgers’ outfield, and he has become one of their most integral players — along with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. At the same time, Ethier will be a year older next season, and the team may not be willing to commit a substantial amount of money to a player entering his decline phase. But some other team will. And if Ethier is allowed to hit free-agency, there’s a good chance he’ll get the contract he desires.

Ethier has reportedly been looking for a deal that might exceed $100 million. But when we look at some comparable players, it’s tough to find another player that commanded that type of money on the free-agent market.

Nick MarkakisAlex Rios and Nick Swisher each signed extensions before hitting free-agency — none of which were anywhere close to $100 million. Ichiro was given a five-year, $90 million contract extension, but he was entering his age-34 season and he was one of baseball’s best players before he signed the deal.

There’s one player on the list who is somewhat similar to Ethier, and another player who isn’t on the list because he became a full-time first baseman by the time he hit free-agency. Both Magglio Ordonez and Adam Dunn each reached free-agency at the same age as Ethier. All of the players were exceptional hitters, but they struggled defensively in the outfield. As a result, Dunn became a full-time first baseman with the Washington Nationals — and he only received a four-year, $56 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. That’s a major difference from what Ethier is asking for. While there hasn’t been talk about moving Ethier to first base, his defense could force the issue in a few seasons.

Ordonez, on the other hand, makes for a pretty interesting comparison. Though he was coming off a devastating knee injury, the right-fielder signed a five-year, $85 million contract with Detroit . Ethier could use that deal as a benchmark — then point to a better market today — and demand somewhere near the $100 million he wants.

Another interesting player ranks a little lower on the list: During the same time period, Jayson Werth accumulated just 12.4 WAR. After two more seasons of strong production, Werth snagged a seven-year, $126 million contract from the Washington Nationals. Some folks have speculated that Ethier will look for a similar contract, but that notion seems crazy.

Werth’s deal was seen as a huge overpay by the Nationals at the time — and it’s going to be incredibly hard for Ethier to convince a team to give him that type of money. Werth was a year older when he signed his deal, but he was coming off three consecutive seasons with at least 5 WAR and was regarded as a strong defender.

That’s what’s going to make Ethier’s next contract so interesting. No one can argue with his offensive production with the Dodgers: He has hit .291/.364/.479 since 2006. But his defense limits his ceiling. Because of that, Ethier has consistently been pretty good, but he has never great. And while he has posted a yearly WAR total of about 3 each season, he has never be able to top 3.5 during a single season. His 5.3 UZR actually rated alright last season, but his career -27.9 UZR tells us much more about his defense. Since his defense is unlikely to improve with age, it should be a major concern for any team looking to sign Ethier this off-season.

While first base might hide some concerns, we’ve seen how much it can affect players on the free-agent market. At this point, Ethier needs to separate himself from Dunn as much as possible if he wants to make $100 million — but there’s no way a team will give him the deal that Werth signed.

If Ethier hopes to make the money he wants, he’ll be best off matching Ordonez’s previous production and then using Werth’s contract to illustrate how much the market has changed. While the dollar figures are debatable, one thing is certain: Ethier will cash in on the open market.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name every NFL regular season MVP

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker