The big news today was of course the huge Matt Kemp deal which left us all giddy. Yet there was another deal in the works as we learned that the Dodgers were close to signing free agent Mark Ellis to a two-year $8.75 million contract with a club option for 2014. Yes, that would be the second Ellis for the Dodgers. The first being A.J. Ellis. The 34-year old veteran is expected to be the Dodgers starting second baseman next season. After Jamey Carroll signed for less with the Twins, we are left to wonder what dynamics were at play in the decision not to offer him a deal. After much discussion in regards to whether the Dodgers should have signed Carroll and what to do about the need for a second baseman, we didn’t have to wait long for a move. Ellis, a mediocre aging vet, managed an astonishing multi-year deal showing how truly desperate the Dodgers were for a second baseman. Yet any of the other options in the free market pool were equally uninspired. Sigh.
Ellis played for both the Oakland A’s and Colorado Rockies last season. He’s played since 2002, debuting with the A’s, but has had some shoulder injuries throughout his career. He missed the entire 2004 season with a torn labrum from a Spring Training collision. He also missed the last two months of the season in 2008, and subsequently had surgery to repair the torn labrum in his shoulder from that earlier injury. On June 30, 2011 he was traded to the Rockies for Bruce Billings and Eliezer Mesa.
The right-hand hitting infielder is listed at 5’10” and 185 lbs., and has a .266 career batting average with 92 homeruns and 459 RBIs and a .331 OBP in 1,126 games played. Last season he only batted .248 with 7 homeruns and 41 RBIs, but his strength is his defense.
Ellis can’t play shortstop, so it looks as though Justin Sellers will more than likely find a spot on the team instead of Aaron Miles. Your 2012 Dodgers infield as of today is comprised of James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, and Juan Uribe. Dee Gordon is expected to continue to mature and build on his breakthrough performance last year. Ellis, who usually bats in the second spot, can be expected to bat in more runs than Carroll had previously. If second-half Loney graces us with his presence, and Juan Uribe manages to hit above the Mendoza line, we may actually have a half-decent infield next season.
The Dodgers are still looking at possibly picking up another starting pitcher if Hiroki Kuroda doesn’t re-sign. We will keep you posted. Go Blue:)