LOS ANGELES -- It was a day of firsts for the new-look Dodgers organization when the team announced it signed All-Star Andre Ethier to an extension that will keep him in Los Angeles through 2017. Ethier, who was acquired in 2005 in general manager Ned Colletti's first trade with the team, became the first player signed under the Dodgers' new ownership group led by Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, and it doesn't sound like he's going to be the last. The right fielder -- who signed a five-year, $85 million deal, which comes with a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018 based on plate appearances -- said he has been assured by Colletti and Kasten that the team is actively working hard on restoring the Dodgers' success.
"Today is one of the starting points to let you guys know that they are going to do their best over the course of the next couple of months and next year to make a championship a reality," Ethier said. Ethier was all smiles Tuesday afternoon as he thanked his family, teammates, coaches and agent Nez Balelo and CAA Sports for helping make the extension possible. He walked into the Stadium Club with his two sons by his side, in matching Dodgers jerseys and hats, and his wife and parents right behind him. His wife, Maggie, was presented with a bouquet of white roses from Colletti before taking a seat next to him near the podium, and Ethier joked that the team would need to give her one for every week she's had to put up with him. Matt Kemp, Javy Guerra, Tony Gwynn and manager Don Mattingly, along with Dodgers great Don Newcombe, were also in attendance. "What's the purpose of holding out a few more months to know you could play somewhere you've been your whole career and somewhere you fit in well and somewhere you are meant to be," Ethier said about not feeling a need to wait for free agency. "There's nothing like putting on a Dodger uniform, and now I can do it for another five or six years." From there, the right fielder had a message to the rest of the players around the league. "Let it be known to all you players out there who are going to be looking for a team in the next couple of years, 'Don't be afraid to look at the Dodgers and consider this a team that is going to be out there on the forefront in search of players that are going to be playing at the top every year.' " In the meantime, the team has two of the best out there already locked up in Ethier and Kemp, who signed an eight-year, $160 million deal last winter. Ethier led the National League with 53 RBIs heading into Tuesday's games, and he's a Silver Slugger Award winner, Gold Glove Award winner and a two-time All-Star. In six Major League seasons, all with the Dodgers, he was hitting .291 with 119 home runs and 499 RBIs. The duo provides a formidable one-two punch in the middle of the order for years to come, and Ethier and Colletti both stressed its rarity and importance. "You are able to lock up two guys in the middle of the lineup, which we've seen over time in baseball is hard to do," Ethier said. "You see a lot of teams lose that second guy or third guy to free agency and you find them scuffling. They made that a point to not let that happen here. Not only are we going to not let that happen, but we are going to add even more to it." Colletti said the Dodgers are in touch with other teams about making more moves, but he said there is a waiting game to be played to find out which teams are willing. As for the Ethier extension, Colletti said he rarely makes midseason deals, but he thought it was important to lock up a fan favorite like Ethier, with the free-agent clock ticking. He talked to Kasten right away when the new ownership group took over, and the deal was finalized after a few weeks of negotiating. "They are all about winning, and this is another sign this is where they are going," Colletti said.
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.