After yesterday's analysis of Andre Ethier's pending arbitration case (hint: Ethier should settle), another comparable entered the fray. The Baltimore Orioles signed Nick Markakis to a 6 year, $66.1 million contract extension, which on the surface seems like it should have Ethier licking his lips. However, as you will soon see, this contract actually helps the Dodgers' case.
Let's look at how Markakis and Ethier compare on the field:
It looks to me like Markakis is and has been the better player. Not overwhelmingly so, but better nonetheless. Markakis just signed a contract for $66 million (covered ably by our friends at Camden Chat). How could this possibly mean anything other than great things for Ethier? Well, let's look further into Markakis's contract. Here's how the money is spread out:
Signing Bonus: $2.1m (paid over 2009-2010)
2015: $17.5m mutual option ($2m buyout)
Markakis has 3 years service time, just ahead of the 2 years, 153 days for Ethier. Since MLB spreads the signing bonus over the life of the contract in its calculations, we must add $350,000 to each year of the contract for comparative purposes. Thus, Markakis's 2009 salary is $3.35 million.
The Dodgers offered $2.65 million, and Ethier countered with a request of $3.75 million. The midpoint is $3.2 million, and for arbitration purposes, that is the figure both sides will try to argue against. Markakis has a higher OPS+, higher WAR, and has more service time than Ethier. There's no way Ethier should be making more than Markakis in 2009, based on past performance.
Yet another reason Ethier should settle rather than go to arbitration.