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It's Settlement For Either, Or Else

The Dodgers and Andre Ethier have exchanged salary arbitration numbers today, as they were unable to come to terms (yet) on a contract like the club did with Russell Martin and Jonathan Broxton earlier in the day.  Per Tony Jackson, here are the numbers:

Salary Submission
Andre Ethier        $3,750,000
Dodgers $2,650,000

If the two sides can't come to terms on a contract before February (the midpoint is $3.2 million), both Andre Ethier and the Dodgers will have an arbitration hearing after which a 3-person arbitration panel will choose one side or the other. 

It would behoove Ethier to try to settle before this gets to an arbitration hearing, because I don't think it's a hearing he can win.  Ethier is a Super Two, meaning he is among the top 17% in service time of players with at least two years but less than three years service time.  Either has 2 years, 153 days service time.

Let's look at some outfielders with comparable service time and performance to Ethier:

Outfielder Year Service Time G R HR RBI Avg OPS+ Salary
Andre Ethier 2009 2.153 420 190 44 196 .299 116 $2.65m/$3.75m
Alex Rios 2007 2.130 385 194 28 169 .283 97 $2,535,000
Luke Scott 2009 2.144 379 153 51 170 .266 119 $2,400,000
Mark Teahen 2008 2.155 383 208 32 184 .274 100 $2,337,500
Ryan Church 2008 2.152 347 126 35 153 .271 113 $2,000,000

When I looked at Ethier's arbitration situation earlier this month, we had fewer comps.  But now, thanks to Luke Scott signing with the Orioles, the picture becomes a bit clearer.

When you look at that group above, Either is probably the best of the bunch, but not obviously so.  Luke Scott has a higher OPS+ and more HR (in fewer games), and he's only going to make $2.4 million in 2009.  The Dodgers' salary offer of $2.65 million would make Either the highest paid among this group of Super Two outfielders.

Either's $3.75 million submission would put him too far ahead of his peers.  For his sake, he would be better off striking a deal with the club for $3.2 million or so before facing off against the buzzsaw that is Kim Ng.