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.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.
If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.
Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.
Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.
The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.