Dodgers sign Ethier to $85 million, 5-year deal

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He said Kasten talked to him two weeks ago about the ownership group’s plans for the team.

“Obviously, that set my mind at ease,” Ethier said. “I knew things were going to get better around here no matter what.”

Last season, Ethier had a 30-game hitting streak and batted .292 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs before having left knee surgery in September.

Colletti said he doesn’t expect the deal to affect Ethier’s future performance.

“He’s proven himself over the long haul,” he said. “It gives him a sense of knowing how we feel.”

Colletti flew to Ethier’s offseason home in Arizona to meet with him in December, when both sides let each other know he wanted to remain in Los Angeles. The deal couldn’t get going until last month because of the ownership transition, but it took just a couple weeks to get one.

“In season you can’t let it drag or it’s a perilous time of year to be doing it,” Colletti said.

In November, the Dodgers signed Kemp to a $160 million, eight-year deal that equaled the seventh-highest contract in baseball history. That was the team’s last major deal under former owner Frank McCourt. It is the richest agreement in club history, topping pitcher Kevin Brown’s $105 million, seven-year deal before the 1999 season.

Kemp is currently on the disabled list for the second time this season, although the Dodgers have maintained the best record in baseball. Ethier and Kemp anchor the Dodgers‘ defense, with Ethier in center and Kemp in right.

“They’ve got a quiet competitiveness and great respect for one another,” Colletti said.

Ethier added, “I can look up and know where Matty’s at most of the time. You don’t see that often in baseball where two guys can do it defensively as well as being at the same level offensively.”

Ethier and Kemp’s relationship dates back to when they played on the same Arizona Fall League team, although Ethier belonged to the Oakland Athletics and Kemp was with the Dodgers.

“It’s unbelievable to know I’m going to get the chance to play by his side for the next five years,” Ethier said. “Me and Matty know we have to go out there and do our thing. When you start adding other key guys it definitely does allow everyone around you to play better baseball.”

Ethier said he knew from the start of spring training that good things were in store for the team after the last few years of turbulence under McCourt.

“You could definitely tell by the way this group came together this spring,” he said. “By far this is the best clubhouse and best group of guys in the seven years I’ve been here. I want to give them a lot of credit for the start we’ve had and the start I’ve had.”

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