Why the Ethier Contract is a Win-Win

The Dodgers agreed today with Andre Ethier on a one-year contract for 2009, avoiding arbitration.  The contract has a $3.1 million salary, with $100,000 in incentives that would bring the total to $3.2 million, the exact midpoint of the salary figures exchanged by both sides in the arbitration process (Ethier wanted $3.75 million, while the Dodgers countered with $2.65 million).  I found this quote from Ned Colletti particularly interesting (from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com):

"Neither side was tremendously happy with it, the earmark of a successful agreement," general manager Ned Colletti said.

That's essentially how I feel, but the flip side of the slightly negative outlook by Colletti is that both sides "won" in some way with this deal:

1) Ethier won by getting a salary at least $450,000 higher than I believe he would have received.  Looking at the comps for Ethier, a Super Two outfielder, it would have been hard to justify Ethier setting the bar for such players with a $3.75 million salary.  The Dodgers, with an offer of $2.65 million, had a much better chance of winning the hearing than did Ethier, as their salary offer was much more in line with other players of his ilk.

2) The Dodgers won by avoiding the corrosive arbitration hearing with perhaps their most vocal and sensitive pre-free agency player in Ethier.  Sitting in a hearing listening to your team illustrate just why you don't deserve a certain salary is a drag, and now the Dodgers don't have to deal with any of the after effects of that.  Instead the Dodgers have a player who is happy instead of irritated.  Per Tony Jackson of the Daily News:

``Why wouldn't I be (satisfied)?'' [Ethier] said. ``Being a two-plus player and being in my first year of arbitration, it's a pretty big accomplishment, and it's a great stepping stone for years to come.''

Now let's see which of the young core players the Dodgers lock up first! (My vote is for Russell Martin.)

P.S. - The payroll worksheet has been updated with Ethier's salary.

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