Dodgers Avoid Arbitration With Andre Ethier & James Loney + Prince Fielder & Resources

The Los Angeles Dodgers avoided arbitration with Andre Ethier and James Loney on Tuesday, signing both to one-year deals worth $10.95 million plus performance bonuses and $6.375 million plus performance bonuses, respectively.

MLB Trade Rumors projected Ethier to clock in at $10.7 million and Loney at $6.5 million, making their knowledge of the process disturbingly accurate.

Considering that Ethier is coming off the worst season in his career, it doesn’t seem all that absurd that he gets a raise just below $2 million, as opposed to a larger bump around the $12-13 million mark. Is he worth it? Sure (~3 WAR), but at this point he’s certainly not going to be clocking in at bargain bin prices.

As for Loney, I find it hard to believe he could get a better deal on the open market. He had his best offensive season as a full time regular and was still only worth around 2 WAR. While he would certainly be worth the contract in terms of value (probably), I would imagine he would find it difficult to get the $8-10 million he would need in order to actually want to be non-tendered at this stage in the off-season.

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I don’t have much problem with the actual arbitration salaries, because they’re both standard and about in line with their value. Once again, the real issue at hand is the use of resources.

The Dodgers will have spent around $55 million in 2012 payroll during this off-season, including $35 million on players not named Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. For 2013, the Dodgers have committed over $105 million already, including $46 million this off-season and $24 million of that chunk on players not named Kemp.

At this point, I honestly have to wonder why the Dodgers couldn’t have fit Prince Fielder into the equation.

I ruled him out early in the off-season because I assumed (incorrectly) that the Dodgers had no money to spend beyond 2012 due to the contract potentially hamstringing the team’s value. However, the Dodgers have plainly spent a ton of money in 2012 and beyond, so this appears to be nothing more than another poor use of resources. If the Dodgers are going to allow such money to be spent, I’m unclear as to how spending it on a bunch of mediocre players will make the franchise more well off in terms of fan support, payroll flexibility, and franchise value than getting a marquee talent.

It just seems absurd that the Dodgers will fail to get an impact player out of the gigantic chunk of money they have spent in the 2012 off-season by using the mantra that it’s impossible when their actions clearly show otherwise.

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