Dodgers buy out remainder of Andre Ethier’s contract, making him a free agent

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers have chosen to buy out the remainder of outfielder Andre Ethier‘s contract for $2.5 million rather than picking up his $17.5 million club option, making him a free agent. Thus ends his five-year, $85 million contract signed back in June 2012.

Ethier, 35, played in only 22 games during the regular season for the Dodgers due to neck and back injuries. He also only played in 16 games in 2016. This past regular season, he batted .235/.316/.441. Ethier was responsible for the Dodgers’ only run in their Game 7 loss to the Astros in the World Series.

Given Ethier’s age, injury history, and declining production, he’ll likely have to settle for a minor league deal or a one-year, incentive-laden major league contract if he intends to play in 2018. Ethier debuted with the Dodgers in 2006 and has been with them ever since.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.