Could 2011 be Andre Ethier’s last in LA?

In Spring Training, Los Angeles Dodgers star right fielder Andre Ethier surprised a lot of people when he stated that he felt 2011 could be his final season with the team (ESPN News Link).

We mentioned in the State of the Franchise post about the messy divorce situation regarding owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, and how the proceedings have restricted the team’s financial stability. Last off-season, the team made the difficult decision of non-tendering catcher Russell Martin, who was a locker room presence for the squad and one of the better catchers in the league.

Now, its beginning to look like the same situation may befall Ethier, who will be in his final year of arbitration eligibility after this season. The expected pay raise Ethier will receive in arbitration will be substantial. It is plausible that Ethier could command a one-year salary over $10 million based on his past performances. However, its his past performance that would make it seemingly impossible for the Dodgers to sell cutting ties with Ethier to their loyal fan base.

In his five years as a Dodger, Ethier has averaged .291 with 22 home runs and 87 runs batted in per year. He also boasts an impressive career OPS of .854 while never having an on-base percentage lower than .350. An All-Star in 2010, Ethier finished sixth in the Most Valuable Player balloting in 2009, finishing with a line of .272, 31 home runs and 106 runs batted in. He slugged .508 that year, in part because of the 42 doubles he connected on. Last year at the All-Star break, Ethier led the National League in all three triple crown categories (average, home runs and runs batted in). If not for an injury in the middle of the season, Ethier’s numbers may have been stronger, even though he still hit over .280 with 23 home runs.

It would be nearly impossible for the Dodgers to try and replace Ethier’s bat in the line-up. Ethier will turn 29 in about a week, and if he were to hit the free agent market, it wouldn’t be crazy to think that he could command a salary in Jayson Werth’s neighborhood. That price would be way too steep for the Dodgers to match on the open market. If the Dodgers want to maintain long-term success, its imperative they find a way to keep Ethier around Hollywood for a very long time.

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About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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