Dodgers' Ethier, Loney Agree to Terms

The Dodgers avoided arbitration with Andre Ethier and James Loney who signed one year contracts. Ethier's contract calls for $10.95 million in 2012 plus an additional $25,000 for each of 600 and 625 plate appearances. Loney will receive $6.375 million plus $25,000 for 585 plate appearances and $50,000 for each of 625 and 650 plate appearances.

This leaves the Dodgers with only one arbitration-eligible player, Clayton Kershaw, the 2010 National League Cy Young Award winner. Kershaw officially filed at $10 million figure on Tuesday while the team countered at $6.5 million. The midpoint between the two figures is $8.25 million.

Ethier, who will be 30 on April 10, has at least five years of major league service time, is in his final winter of arbitration-eligibility and will be eligible for free agency after the 2012 season unless the Dodgers sign him to an extension before then. He received $9.25 million in 2011, the final year of a two-year, $15.25 million contract he signed before the 2010 season.

Loney, 27, also is a five-plus player and will be eligible for free agency next winter. He received $4.875 million last season and suffered through the first half of the season and was in danger of being non-tendered before breaking out with a second-half during which he hit .320 with a .380 on-base percentage after the All-Star break and .349 with a .400 OBP in September.

Kershaw, 23, is a three-plus player who is eligible for arbitration for the first time. That alone would put him in line for a massive raise from last year's $500,000. Kershaw led the National League in ERA at 2.28 and in strikeouts with 248 as well as tying for the NL lead in wins by going 21-5. He now would receive a $6 million salary increase in 2012 even if he loses arbitration. By way of comparison, Tim Lincecum has put in for $21.5 million and been offered $17 million by the Giants.

Kershaw, who is on a promotional tour for his new book, was named winner of the 2011 Sportsman of the Year award by the Los Angeles Sports Council. The award, presented by AT&T U-verse, will be given to Kershaw on March 15 at Club Nokia at L.A. Live, assuming Kershaw gets a hall pass from Spring Training. The awards show will be televised by FSN Prime Ticket.

Kershaw is the Dodgers' first Cy Young winner since Eric Gagné and the Dodgers won in an arbitration hearing the following winter, leaving Gagne with a $5 million salary in 2004 rather than the $8 million he sought.

The Dodgers have had only two hearings over the past 10 years with Joe Beimel (2007) losing as former assistant general manager Kim Ng handled the club's arbitration.

Ng accepted a position with Major League Baseball as senior vice president for baseball operations and Alex Tamin recently joined the Dodgers this winter as director of baseball contracts, research and operations and is now spearheading the club's arbitration cases as Ng formerly did.

Arbitration hearings will take place during the first three weeks of February. If a player doesn't reach agreement on a new contract and goes to a hearing, a three-person arbitration panel will hear arguments from both the club and representatives of the player, then choose either the player's figure or the club's figure with no flexibility to choose a compromise figure in between.

Such hearings are often painful, with club officials pointing out a player's negatives in an effort to prove why the player should receive the lower figure, so for the most part, every effort is made to reach agreement and avoid a hearing.

Dodger Blue Notes --The Red Sox signed free agent P Vicente Padilla to a minor league contract, with an invitation to spring training and the Reds signed C Dioner Navarro to a minor league contract. ...Christopher Jackson of the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner pointed out how different this year's Triple-A Isotopes will be. An excerpt: A total of 19 additional players who spent time in Albuquerque in 2011 became free agents after the season. Left-handed starter Alberto Bastardo (4-3, 5.38 ERA) has signed with the Marlins organization, which puts him in contention for a rotation spot with New Orleans. Closer Jon Link (2-2, 4.24, 11 saves) inked a deal with the Orioles, enabling him to potentially pitch closer to his Virginia home with Norfolk, another Triple-A team run by Isotopes owner Ken Young. Right-handed reliever Travis Schlichting (5-3, 7.10, four saves) will join the wide-open competition for a roster spot in cash-strapped Oakland. Corner infielder Corey Smith (.239, 7 HR) joined the White Sox, while utility player Eugenio Velez (.339, 31 RBI) will take his 0-for-37 skid in the Majors to the Cardinals organization. The free agents still looking for work include pitchers Roman Colon, Roy Corcoran and Randy Keisler, plus catcher Damaso Espino, first baseman John Lindsey and outfielders Brad Coon and Jay Gibbons. Barry Larkin enjoyed a landslide into the Hall of Fame. The highest-polling Dodger alum was Fred McGriff with 137 votes (23.9 percent of total ballots), Don Mattingly (102 votes/17.8 percent), Bill Mueller (4 votes, 0.7 percent) and Eric Young (1 vote, 0.2 percent). Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Jordan and Terry Mulholland came up empty. ...Incredibly enough, four teams may be interested in Manny Ramirez's comeback efforts: the Rangers, the Twins, the Jays, and the Rays. My opinion? They should just send me the money and avoid the hassle while receiving about the same results on the field.

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