Two days after Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier said "a lot of signs are pointing" toward his leaving Los Angeles after the season, a "surprised" general manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday that the team wants to keep Ethier, whom Colletti considers "a special person."
"I was a little bit surprised by it," Colletti said on 710 ESPN's Mason and Ireland show Wednesday afternoon, responding to Ethier's comments from Monday night. "But I love the kid. He's got a chance to be one of the better players in the league. From time to time people say stuff whether they mean it, whether they don't mean it, whether it's the moment that captures them that makes them say what they say."
Colletti said Wednesday that he has no interest in trading Ethier, whom Colletti acquired in a 2005 trade.
"I don't have any interest in moving him, trading him, anything," Colletti said on Mason and Ireland. "I like him, and the first deal I made when I came to this club was acquiring him for Milton Bradley, and so it's always been a special deal for me and a special person we acquired, so everything's cool on my end."
Ethier expressed concern Monday night that he could get priced out of the Dodgers' plans.
"My salary is increasing each year," Ethier said after Monday night's exhibition game. "I would say the likeliness of me being here beyond this year, it's not just my decision. ... I have been kind of lucky to be in one spot in baseball for as long as I have been, for six years now. That is a long time to be in one city playing for one team. There is no inclination now other than to go out and play this year and see what we've got.
"If I don't play well, we have seen them non-tender guys here. If you do play well, sometimes they don't offer those guys arbitration because their salaries are too high."
Ethier is entering the final season of a two-year, $15.25 million contract that will pay him $9.25 million this year, and if he has even a decent season in 2011, he will receive a significant raise in 2012. But he won't be eligible for free agency until after 2012 because he won't have six years of big league service time at the end of this season. However, teams can choose to non-tender their arbitration-eligible players, making them free agents.
The Dodgers went that route with former All-Star catcher Russell Martin over the winter, and Ethier hinted that a similar fate could be in store for him.
Meanwhile, Ethier's agent issued a written statement Wednesday acknowledging that he did have a brief discussion with Colletti earlier this spring about a possible contract extension for his client. Nez Balelo, Ethier's Los Angeles-based agent, also said Ethier was aware of those negotiations despite the fact Ethier on Tuesday denied any such knowledge.
"As Ned said Tuesday, we did have some conversations regarding an extension for Andre,'' Balelo's statement reads. "But at no time was an offer ever made. As I do with all my clients, I kept Andre informed on all developments. But since we agreed with the Dodgers not to speak publicly about our talks, Andre kept to his word and denied any knowledge of them. Knowing Andre's passion for Dodgers fans and the city, I can vouch for Andre's statement that he is open to staying in Los Angeles for the rest of his career.''
Approached at Dodger Stadium just before the Dodgers' final Cactus League game on Wednesday night against Seattle, Balelo declined to comment further on the matter, saying he wanted the statement he had issued to stand on its own.
Ethier confirmed what Colletti said during his radio interview, saying he and Colletti hadn't discussed Ethier's comments from Tuesday and that he didn't expect to have such a conversation, adding that he is putting the matter behind him.
"It's over, and I'm moving on," Ethier said. "I'm moving forward and focusing on the season starting [Thursday].''
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Tony Jackson and The Associated Press was used in this report.