Andre Ethier has avoided a salary arbitration hearing by signing a one-year deal for $10.95 million plus minimal incentives – a deal so modest, given what he could have potentially earned, that it's almost as if Ethier has taken a Dale Carnegie approach to 2012.
Tip of the hat, no muss, no fuss, let's play ball.
Based on the history of raises for arbitration-eligible players of his caliber, I had projected in September that Ethier (who made $9.25 million last year) could pull $13 million in salary for 2012. On this, I wasn't alone: Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. reached the same conclusion, while Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness was close behind at $12 million. By my estimation, $10.95 million (plus $25,000 for reaching 600 plate appearances and again for 625 plate appearances, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com's Tony Jackson) is roughly the minimum Ethier would have gotten in salary arbitration – the figure he would have ended up with had he lost.
If you're wondering why Ethier would be guaranteed a raise even after a decline in performance last year, you have a lot to learn about Major League Baseball's salary structure. By way of comparison, James Loney got a 57 percent salary bump after the 2010 season despite falling to a .723 OPS that year. Ethier just pulled an 18 percent increase.
Perhaps all of us overestimated what Ethier could get this year, but it would appear that he simply wanted to just take care of business and have no part of a protracted conflict.
Now the path is clear for Ethier to pursue a healthy rebound from his career-low 11-homer, .789 OPS season, not to mention a reversal of his decline against left-handed pitching. Ethier obviously won't end up in the poorhouse should he fall short, but all in all, a comfortable peace between the Dodgers and Ethier would seem to be a good thing.