Mark Ellis, Cardinals agree on deal

Jeff Gross

The Cardinals still plan on starting Kolten Wong at second base, but Ellis will provide a nice bench option.

The St. Louis Cardinals and second baseman Mark Ellis have come to an agreement on a one-year deal, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The deal is pending a physical.

Viva El Birdos: Get to know Mark Ellis

An 11-year veteran, Ellis most recently started at second base for the Dodgers in 2013. Over 126 games, he hit .270/.323/.351. Los Angeles had shown an interest in bringing him back, but signed Cuban Alex Guerrero to a big contract to take over second base full-time.

Ellis, 36, will likely be utilized as a utility player for the Cardinals. St. Louis is poised to hand the starting reins at second base to rookie Kolten Wong to start the year. However, considering Wong's struggles in an end-of-the-season call-up (.153/.194/.169 in 62 PA), the team is probably wise to hedge their bets with the youngster by bringing in the veteran in case Wong falters.

The Cardinals have been outstanding at overcoming injuries and ineffectiveness due to the versatility of the roster. That has come into play this offseason, as the team lost Carlos Beltran and signed Jhonny Peralta while simultaneously accommodating players like Wong, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams and Allen Craig, all of whom deserved starting roles. In fact, from the NL pennant-winning roster in 2013, only Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina figure to fill the same position next year.

Ellis should fit that versatility well. Though he has played primarily second base in his major league career, he is capable of playing elsewhere in the infield and will be able to help the team in a variety of ways, including mentoring Wong.

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