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No new deal close yet for Ethier, but new owners enhance chances

Now that the good guys (Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, Mark Walter) are in and the unspeakable chap (you know who) is gone from the ownership suite at the beautiful park on Elysian Way, the Los Angeles Dodgers are again prepared to do business like a real big-market team. Which means Andre Ethier is probably a very lucky man today.

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has always advocated a run at that the Dodgers' three big stars, meaning Matt Kemp, who was smartly signed for $160 million over eight years back in November, ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Ethier. But while Ethier seemed to have issues with the old regime, he made clear the day after the Magic-Kasten group was announced as the surprise winner of the Dodgers that he was now open to doing an in-season deal ahead of his impending free agency. The era of good feeling arrived well before Magic was technically in place.

Colletti was seen meeting with Ethier's agents in L.A. late last week, but while a big long-term contract for the Dodgers' star No. 3 would further endear the new owners, word is that a deal isn't at hand. Not yet, anyway. Folks close to the situation suggest that the new owners -- who will be introduced at a press conference in L.A. on Tuesday -- need to get their bearings before diving into a deal that could approach -- or possibly exceed -- $100 million.

One competing agent suggested that the scuttlebutt (a fancy word for guess) going around is that Ethier will likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of $90 million for six years if a deal can be struck -- though another agent suggested that the true comp for Ethier is Jayson Werth's $126-million deal. (I'd contend the first figure is more realistic and that Werth was an overpay by a longtime losing team trying to get its footing.)

The Dodgers are a very attractive team, now, after an ownership switch that looks like nothing short of a Godsend. Word was that Ethier had understandably deep reservations about the old regime, and took the embarrassment that was the previous owner to heart much moreso than Kemp did. Many folks around the game previously saw the Red Sox as Ethier's likeliest landing spot, what with ex-Arizona State teammate and best buddy Dustin Pedroia there as a draw for him.

But to see Ethier the day after Magic won the bidding was to see a man who had fallen in love again with Dodger blue. There seems to be a deal to be made now. Kasten told CBSSports.com a couple weeks back that, of course, it's silly to think that the very last penny of the group's money was spent in the record $2.15-billion purchase of the team. So it'll be a surprise if they let Ethier leave.

Ethier isn't Kemp, or for that matter Kershaw, but to be fair that duo might be the two most valuable players in the game. Ethier is still a vital third star on a hot team comprised mainly of nice complementary players (the previous owner's plummeting budget left room for nothing else). So it'd be a surprise if the already beloved new ownership group didn't do what it had to do to keep Ethier in Dodger blue.

 
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