Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A routine exercise.

Kurt Henin of NBC Los Angeles writes this afternoon:
The Dodgers have awakened from their winter hibernation.
Today they reached new deals to keep more of their core intact —Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, Russell Martin, James Loney, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo all reached deals with the Dodgers in the last 24 hours. Those players were arbitration eligible and the Dodgers have avoided that in each case.
Ethier and Broxton, as Matt Kemp did last week, signed a two-year deal with the franchise, providing a bit of stability. Ethier had 31 home runs last season, drove in 106 runs and was the team’s best clutch hitter. Broxton became one of the most feared closers in baseball on his way to 36 saves last season.
That's great and all, especially the Ethier and Broxton parts. But to imply that this was anything beyond routine business is to fail to grasp some fundamental realities of the system. These players weren't going anywhere. 

Avoiding arbitration serves two useful functions. First, it provides cost certainty, mitigating risk but sacrificing upside for both parties involved. This holds true whether the team and player agree to a one-year contract or multi-year deal. Second, avoiding arbitration goes a long way toward preserving an amicable relationship between the player and the team. This is especially important in Matt Kemp's case, as he's the one the club most needs to retain beyond his six years of team control.

Nothing that happened today signifies that the Dodgers' money woes are a thing of the past. As Jon Weisman notes at Dodger Thoughts, one interesting development was Russell Martin's clear penalty for his dismal 2009 season. Other than that, all the contract news of the last few days is relatively unsurprising. I'm happy that no cases went to arbitration, but so very few ever do. 

Stay dry and safe, everyone. Yesterday was probably the first time in my life I've flown out of Los Angeles to better weather in Minnesota. I understand that San Pedro, my home town of four years, was hit particularly hard. Hope everyone's ok.

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