ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier on Tuesday stood behind comments he made to The Associated Press after Monday night's exhibition game in which he said this could be his final season with the club because, "a lot of signs are pointing that way."
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.
"My salary is increasing each year," Ethier said. "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."
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he wasn't aware of Ethier's remarks, either from Monday night or Tuesday afternoon, and he initially seemed taken aback by them.
"You will have to address that with him," Colletti said. "I don't have any comment on that at all."
But on the day the Dodgers finalized a three-year, $35 million contract extension for pitcher Chad Billingsley, Colletti did reveal that he had preliminary discussions during spring training with Nez Balelo, Ethier's Los Angeles-based agent, on a possible extension for Ethier, but that those discussions died fairly quickly.
Ethier insisted he was unaware that those talks had even begun between Colletti and Balelo, so he couldn't have been aware that they had been quickly abandoned.
"I guess they didn't get far enough for it to get to me," Ethier said. "I guess that shows you how serious they were."
Balelo didn't immediately return a message left on his cell phone from ESPNLosAngeles.com.
The Dodgers acquired Ethier as a highly touted prospect from the Oakland A's for outfielders Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez on Dec. 13, 2005, and he made his first National League All-Star team last season. Ethier now says he would like to remain with the Dodgers for a long time to come, but he also qualified that statement.
"Yeah, as long as the organization is going in the right direction and is still committed to winning rather than things not going good for a year or two and then rebuilding or maybe going through a transition year," he said. "You hear it all the time, coaches and players saying they don't know how many opportunities you're going to get to be in the playoffs or on a winning team. I want to be somewhere [that provides] my best shot to win and win on an everyday basis. It feels like we have that here and we're moving that way, but that's kind of a wait-and-see basis."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.