T.J. Simers: Andre Ethier “selfish” and “counterproductive”

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Well, that’s not nice. Here’s the full quote from T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times:

Mattingly’s critical comments of the team and Ethier came a day after being assured by Colletti that he had management’s support.

I’ve been writing it for years: Ethier is the most selfish athlete in town and counterproductive to a team’s achieving success.

I thought the Dodgers’ off-season should have begun by trading Ethier, but that’s something for Colletti to explain later.

Andre Ethier, entering tonight with a .264/.353/.405 line, was benched for Wednesday’s game against the Brewers despite not really being in a slump of any kind. It was the third time in the team’s previous six games that Ethier was not starting. Manager Don Mattingly implied Ethier wasn’t mentally tough. ESPN’s Mark Saxon tweets that Ethier hadn’t talked to manager Don Mattingly about the situation but is still stung by the criticism.

Ethier signed a five-year, $85 million extension with the Dodgers on June 12 last year, but has become the team’s whipping boy. The Dodgers opened the season with a $217 million payroll but sit in last place in the NL West at 19-26, thanks in part to a barrage of injuries. Placing the blame on Ethier, who is actually having a decent season thus far (.758 OPS), seems misguided.

The media, including Simers, don’t like Ethier because he’s emotional and abrasive at times, but that has nothing to do with his performance on the field. There are plenty of teams who would be happy to bring Ethier, so-called problems and all, aboard if the Dodgers are willing to take responsibility for a large portion of his remaining contract.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.