Much like the 2016 season, Andre Ethier struggled to stay on the field for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 35-year-old battled with a herniated disc in his lower back and didn’t make his debut until September.
In just 38 plate appearances during the regular season, Ethier hit .235/.316/.441 with three extra-base hits and three RBI. His 98 OPS+ indicates he was slightly below league-average offensively, and it’s just the third time in his career he posted an OPS+ below 100 in a season.
Ethier was featured on all three postseason rosters and appeared in eight games, primarily serving as a pinch-hitter. He collected four hits in 13 at-bats and most notably homered at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series for the second consecutive year.
With Ethier in line for a $17.5 million salary next season, the Dodgers have instead opted to buy him out for $2.5 million, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Andre Ethier a free agent after Dodgers pay $2.5 million to buy out option.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) November 5, 2017
Now a free agent, Ethier joins the likes of Yu Darvish, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Morrow as six players who spent at least the past season with the Dodgers and are now on the open market.
Should Ethier not return to the Dodgers next season, his 12-year tenure with the club concluded on a positive note. In the deciding seventh contest of the World Series, Ethier drove in the lone run for Los Angeles with an RBI-single to right field.
What’s more, his pinch-hit appearance in Game 6 broke Bill Russell’s Dodgers postseason record for most games played. Ethier then extended his record to 51 such games by pinch-hitting in Game 7.
Over 12 seasons with the Dodgers, Ethier batted .285/.359/.463 with 303 doubles, 34 triples, 162 home runs and 687 RBI in 5,425 plate appearances. He accumulated 23.9 WAR (FanGraphs) — good for 27th all-time in franchise history.
At 12 years with the franchise, he was the longest-tenured Dodger.