The Los Angeles Dodgers have Andre Ethier for at least one more year. Beyond that, much will depend on the ownership situation and Ethier's production in 2012. Andre has been a quality Dodger throughout his career, but his numbers are definitely down over the last couple of seasons. Should the Dodgers attempt to sign Ethier to a long-term deal, or should they wait to see if Ethier regains some of his production?
The 2009 season was arguably his best season. Despite a lower average (.272), Ethier hit 31 home runs and 106 RBIs. He also played 160 games that season. Unfortunately, the last two years have seen a slow decline. In 2010, Ethier played in 139 games, and while his average was a solid .292, he had 23 home runs and 82 RBIs. This is not necessarily surprising given the missed games. The 2011 season saw Ethier enjoy a 30-game hitting streak, but he also lost 51 games to injury. His average stayed at .292, but Ethier was somewhat sapped of his power and he finished with only 11 home runs and 62 RBIs. If this is a sign of things to come, a one-year deal was a good idea. However, if Ethier is healthy and productive again, the Dodgers may be faced with competition from the open market.
At what cost?
It is tough to know how much Andre Ethier would command if he returned to 2009 numbers, but he made $9.25 million in 2011 and will make $10.95 million plus incentives in 2012. If Ethier has a good season he may ask for $12-15 million per year, but now that he is 30 it may be difficult to get any team to sign him for more than 2-3 years. Given the desirability of the Dodgers as a destination, the club may be assuming that they can wait and see how Ethier does this season.
Obviously, long-term contracts of this kind may have to wait until the new owner or ownership group comes in. In addition, the real priority is Clayton Kershaw, who will likely be looking for a very lucrative long-term contract after winning the Cy Young in 2011. It will be a very interesting season for Ethier and teammate James Loney, who will also be playing for a future contract.
I just hope this ownership situation can be resolved quickly so that the Dodgers can get back to the business of baseball.
The author grew up in Seattle and is ultimately loyal to the Mariners, but now lives in Los Angeles and also roots for Dodger Blue.
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