UPDATE: Bob Nightengale confirms that the deal is done. The five-year, $85 million figure was accurate. Add to it a $17.5 million vesting option for a sixth year or a $2.5 million buyout. The option vests if he hits a specific number of plate appearances from 2016-17.
1:10 A.M.: Andre Ethier’s big start has been parlayed into a big contract: five years and $85 million big.
Ethier was long rumored to be on the way out of Los Angeles as a free agent at season’s end, if not before, but obviously the ownership change led to a big turnaround there. Now the 30-year-old Ethier might be in a position to finish his career in Los Angeles. His deal includes a vesting option that would take him through 2018, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Apart from last year’s injury-plagued season, Ethier has been a consistent hitter on a year-to-year basis, finishing with OPSs between .802 and .885. He’s at .871 this year with his .292/.353/.518 line. He’s hit 10 homers and driven in 52 runs in 60 games.
Still, one wonders if this has the potential to turn into a Jason Bay-like deal for the Dodgers. Ethier’s defense in right field is average at best, and considering that he turns 31 next season, there’s a good chance he’s already had his best seasons. The Dodgers will be paying an All-Star’s salary to guy who projects as little more than an average regular two or three years down the line.
That said, the Dodgers are flush with cash, and the Ethier deal isn’t at all likely to stop them from making a big addition or two this winter. Also, that they’ve handed out massive deals to Matt Kemp and Ethier should only make them more attractive to potential free agents. For on-field production, the Dodgers probably won’t end up getting much bang for their buck here. Still, it’s not something that figures to hamstring the franchise.
Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:
Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.
With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.
The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.
You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.
Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.
Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.
Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.
Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.
Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.