During the 2011 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave the bulk of their starts at second base to Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles. One of those players has signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Twins while the other player is Aaron Miles, so the Dodgers were in need of some help. On Monday, they've found that help, or at least they hope they've found that help, as they've signed free agent second baseman Mark Ellis to a two-year contract worth $8.75 million.
Buster Olney was first with the story, while Ken Rosenthal came through with confirmation and financial info. This has been a busy day for the Dodgers' front office, as the team also signed Matt Kemp to an eight-year extension. You've probably heard about that. If you are reading about Mark Ellis' new contract, but you didn't know about Matt Kemp's new contract, I...I don't really know what to tell you.
What do we know about Mark Ellis? First of all, he's 34 years old. He's a 34-year-old middle infielder who turns 35 next June. There's a belief out there that middle infielders have a tendency to hit the wall as they age.
What else do we know about Mark Ellis? We know that Ellis is coming off a season in which he posted a .634 OPS. He hit seven home runs and drew just 22 walks over most of a full year, which does not bode particularly well for the future.
But it isn't all bad. For one thing, Ellis is a terrific defensive second baseman. Always has been, and while he isn't what he used to be, he's still an overall plus. For another thing, Ellis was an above-average hitter as recently as 2010, when he hit .291/.358/.381. He's never been much of a power threat, but he's historically made enough contact and gotten on base enough to stay in the lineup, and there's reason to believe he could be okay in the short term.
This is an unsexy signing. This is an unsexy signing of an aging middle infielder who doesn't move the way that he used to move. Ellis' chances of crashing and burning with the Dodgers are very much real, as it's possible he's just near the end of the line. But Ellis has been good enough for long enough to give the Dodgers some confidence that he can help, and if he doesn't work out, $8.75 million isn't that much money. To them. It would be to me. The Los Angeles Dodgers and I have such different perspectives!