On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers avoided 66% of the sometimes ugly arbitration process by signing two of their “big three” arbitration-eligible players to contracts. All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier and first baseman James Loney each inked one year deals. The final name on the arbitration list is Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw.
Ethier (.292, 11 HR, 62 RBI) jumps from a 2011 salary of $9.25 million to $10.95 million in 2012. Loney (.288, 12, 65) receives a 30%-plus raise going from $4.875 million to $6.3 million. The signings didn’t shock anyone but both players have seen their popularity with fans temper a bit over the past few months.
There are rumblings that Ethier and manager Don Mattingly don’t always see eye to eye. Last May, Ethier was mired in a 1 for 35 slump when Mattingly chose to sit him in a May 23rd game versus the Astros. When Ethier was used as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and grabbed his glove to take the field in the bottom of the inning, Mattingly told Ethier to return to the bench in favor of Jay Gibbons. Ethier reportedly did not take that very well. Then there was Knee-gate.
Late in the 2011 season, Ethier claimed his knee was bothering him but the Dodgers were forcing him to play in pain. The Dodgers responded by saying it was Andre’s choice to continue playing; the team was not making him do anything he didn’t want to do. Before the he-said-they-said game got worse, the Dodgers let Ethier get examined. The result was season ending knee surgery in early September. The problem exacerbated itself when one doctor went on a radio talk show to say he believed Ethier suffers from an arthritic knee and may never fully recover.
Loney’s ills took place off the field. In November, police arrested Loney on a charge of driving while under the influence. The story didn’t become public until weeks later and some witnesses described a horrifying scene where Loney appeared to be passed out when police arrived. So far, Loney has pretty much remained mum on the whole thing.
Kershaw made $500,000 in 2011. Reports are the Dodgers have offered $6.5 million but Kershaw is asking for about $10 million. He is apparently looking to mirror the salary history of the Giants Tim Lincecum, who also became arbitration eligible after winning a Cy Young award. Lincecum went from a 2009 salary of $650,000 to a multi-year contract that paid him $9 million in 2010.