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.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.
Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.
“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”
The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).
Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.
Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.
In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.
The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:
Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.
Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.
Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.
He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.