Cardinals To Sign Mark Ellis

MONDAY: Ellis' contract guarantees him $5.25MM and contains more than $1MM worth of incentives, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Ellis obtains the same base salary that he had in 2013 and, when combined with the $1MM buyout he received from the Dodgers, has exceeded the amount of money he could have earned had Los Angeles simply exercised the option.

SUNDAY: The Cardinals have a one-year deal in place with free agent second baseman Mark Ellis, with a physical and subsequent announcement expected later this week, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Ellis is represented by TWC Sports.

Ellis

Ellis, 36, spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers' primary second baseman, but hit the open market when Los Angeles declined declined a $5.75MM club option for 2014. Last year, he hit .270/.323/.351 in 480 plate appearances. As has come to be expected, Ellis continued to display stellar defense, putting up +7.6 UZR/150 and +12 DRS per The Fielding Bible in 2013. That bumped his value into the range of about one-and-a-half to three wins above replacement, depending on which WAR recipe you prefer. 

Looking at the list of available second baggers, Ellis was probably the best overall option left on the market at this point. While other players offered more attractive age or upside, Ellis has been a consistent contributor for nearly a decade. With Omar Infante and Juan Uribe coming off the board in recent days, Stephen Drew is arguably the only free agent, non-first baseman infielder left on the market who should be counted on as an above-average regular next season.

St. Louis had been expected to add a veteran option that could play up the middle, and Ellis should fit in well in the Cardinals infield mix. 23-year-old prospect Kolten Wong figures to have the inside track to the everyday job at the keystone. But Ellis offers both a veteran alternative and a platoon option to pair with Wong's left-handed bat. Over his 5,500+ MLB plate appearances, Ellis has a .777 OPS against lefties and a .700 OPS against same-handed hurlers. Wong has, unsurprisingly, posted somewhat better numbers against righties in the early stages of his professional career. Ellis could also spell Matt Carpenter at third, notes Rosenthal (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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144 Comments on "Cardinals To Sign Mark Ellis"


SanFranPanda
1 year 8 months ago

Solid veteran leadership, decent bat and a healthier transition for Wong, good pick up for the Cards.

Pavilionbum
1 year 8 months ago

Meh, not sure about decent bat, but the rest is true.

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

Decent against lefties, which is where he’ll get most of his ABs.

Little Tone
1 year 8 months ago

2013 vs lefties .282/.331/.412

kcstengelSr
1 year 8 months ago

many at KC sites wanted Mark Ellis because many felt Infante was out of reach. Surprised that Mark only merited one year.

Ddgrfn from 1947
1 year 8 months ago

Hate to agree with a Giant fan, but he had good years with the Dodgers.
Not sure why he turned down 1 yr. Dodger offer, but wish him well.

rwj14
1 year 8 months ago

The Dodgers declined his club option. Which was stupid. Now The Dodgers have lost 3 crucial players & clubhouse guys in Nick Punto (Oakland), Skip Schumacher (Cincinnati) & now Mark Ellis (St. Louis). We got to get decent players to replace these 3 players. They really stepped up. We got Dee Gordon although not sure he’s ready to be a utility player. So we need players to backup Uribe, HanRam, & Guerrero.

thegrayrace
1 year 8 months ago

Schumaker was terrible, but you’re right about the other two.

Joe Valenti
1 year 8 months ago

They also might not get Michael Young back. Not that he was a good on the field player, but that clubhouse seems like one that could see a lot of turmoil if the right guys aren’t there to put out the fire at times

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
1 year 8 months ago

I think they declined his option because they need a utility infielder, and Ellis plays only 2B. They need someone who can also backup at SS and 3B.

Brandon Mason
1 year 8 months ago

This would be a good pick up for the Cardinals.

BlueJayMatt
1 year 8 months ago

Why weren’t the Jays in on this? Only a one-year deal? Come on AA, you can’t be serious about running Goins out there everyday, can you?

Steely_D89
1 year 8 months ago

Agreed. I know the Jays need to save a lot of their cash for pitching this offseason but would a 2yr/6mil kind of deal not been perfect for both parties as long as Ellis was interested in the Jays? Let Goins learn to hit in AAA.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 8 months ago

Whats up with AA? Is the honeymoon over? AA not a ninja GM after all?

BlueJayMatt
1 year 8 months ago

He’s still a great GM, I just don’t understand this non-move. Unless he tried and Ellis doesn’t want to play on green cement? I wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to play on real grass and protect his knees.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 8 months ago

Great GM’s have their team in contention every year. great GM’s extract talent from a wide spectrum of sources. AA has a good eye to prospects, but has yet to build a winner at major league level

rikersbeard
1 year 8 months ago

that can’t be right. Many great GMs take time to build up a winner. Once you have a solid ML roster and minor league system it isn’t that hard to stay in contention. Pretty sure Gillick is considered a great GM, but he had plenty of teams that were not in contention. Similarly, you might think that Epstein and Hoyer are good, but the cubs certainly aren’t in contention. Billy Beane had plenty of A’s teams not in contention. etc.

BlueJayMatt
1 year 8 months ago

By that measure Friedman wouldn’t be a great GM and he absolutely is. He took over in 2005 and the Rays missed the playoffs in 4 of his fist 5 seasons,

AA built up the farm system then made a couple of trades. Next year will be his 5th in charge and we’ll see towards the end of that year.

MoCrash
1 year 8 months ago

It could also be that Ellis wants to play for a team which has a shot at the Series. History suggests that’s more likely to be the Cardinals than the Jays (no hate, just fact).

Nick Costanza
1 year 8 months ago

He was overrated based on a few good early moves, and even then he had traded Mike Napoli for peanuts. He’s really not a great GM, possibly a little better than average.

Steely_D89
1 year 8 months ago

Napoli when he came to the Jays had just been passed up over Mathis in LAA… He was a power threat at C with good defense but his contact had been suspect. The Jays had the “Catcher of the future” up and coming and had a DESPERATE “need” for a closer after the BJ Ryan and failed experiment. At the time it seemed like an alright move based on organizational needs. Judging trades with hindsight isn’t very fair.

AZDbacksfan1
1 year 8 months ago

This is really a good signing for the Cards. I knew that they wouldn’t keep Wong full-time. If this deal is under 6 mil, then the Cards got a good steal.

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

It’s still Wong’s job until proven otherwise. So you see, you don’t know.

PaperLions
1 year 8 months ago

Exactly. They wanted a backup RH hitter. The most Ellis will play is as the small part of the platoon…but they would be smart to let Wong hit against some lefties as well….hard to develop a skill without the chance to work on it.

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

Agreed. Ellis will likely get some time at 3rd as well.

Joe Valenti
1 year 8 months ago

This is still a good move given that Wong was really the only “weak” spot in that lineup. If he falters they can throw in Ellis and not miss a step. Seems like they have a surplus in 1B/RF with Jay, Adams, Taveras, and Craig

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

I’m still of the belief that Jay is on another team by opening day. Oh and Jay doesn’t have the arm for a RF.

Joe Valenti
1 year 8 months ago

Well Jay was more of an entire OF thing. I really wanted the Mets to trade for him right after the Cards got Bourjos but with Young, Lagares, and Granderson I don’t see it happening

MoCrash
1 year 8 months ago

Ellis is Wong Insurance.

AndreTheGiantKiller
1 year 8 months ago

As a dodger fan I’m sad to see him go. Classy guy and great team player.

1 year 8 months ago

I love this. Cardinals have now accomplished every single goal they had for the off season, and they’ve done it in a smart and efficient manner. Ellis is the perfect compliment to Wong, and I’m excited to see what Kolten can learn from his experience. Hopefully, Ellis can continue to solidify the clubhouse as well. Really excited.

James Cox
1 year 8 months ago

As a die hard Dodger fan, I tip my hat to your very classy organization. Mark Ellis is a great clubhouse guy, and a solid player. I think we are going to regret losing him.

baycommuter
1 year 8 months ago

We A’s fans feel the same way… Mark is as steady and as good a guy as they come. Dealing him to make way for Jemile Weeks turned out to be a mistake.

Joe Orsatti
1 year 8 months ago

Weeks didn’t get enough of a chance. In 2011, he hit over 300 and he was cut in May 2012 after one bad month. Even in AAA he tore it up. I think that he is going to rip it up in Baltimore.

David Cosgrove
1 year 8 months ago

Weeks played in 118 games in 2012 and had 511 plate appearances. He hit .221/.305/.304, stole 16 bags but got caught 5 times and cost the A’s 14 runs at second base. He got his chance and played horribly. His .303 average in 97 games in 2011 was a fluke and his high BABIP of .350 proves that. In 2013 in the minors he hit .271/.376/.369 with 17 steals (2 caught stealing) in 130 games. Solid but hardly tore it up.

dieharddodgerfan
1 year 8 months ago

I liked Mark Ellis, but I don’t think he’s a huge loss. He’s a great guy, but he’s not really a vocal guy and he doesn’t hit righties well, which is most pitchers.

I think Guerrero will be an upgrade.

James Cox
1 year 8 months ago

Guerrero will be an offensive upgrade, but Mark Ellis has been one of the top defensive 2nd basemen in baseball. He was also a very strong presence in the clubhouse. Hopefully, Kemp will stay healthy this year, and become the clubhouse leader.

dieharddodgerfan
1 year 8 months ago

Ellis’ range and overall fielding, IMO, has regressed. I think its just mainly due to age. He doesn’t get to balls like he used to and he made some throwing errors last season.

Again, I like Mark Ellis a lot as a person and he definitely can’t hurt chemistry, but I’m glad the Dodgers got Guerrero.

I think Guerrero can be a real impact bat for the Dodgers next season, especially at 2B.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 8 months ago

The only downside is the Ellis doesnt play play any SS and is primarily a 2b. Good signing overall though. Mo filled every need this offseason without losing any of his young players.

MoCrash
1 year 8 months ago

The Cardinals still have Descalso and Kozma, likely to be a late-inning defensive replacement for Peralta.

Lanidrac
1 year 8 months ago

Kozma is likely ticketed for AAA now. We don’t have room on the roster
for three backup middle infielders, and Descalso has both a better track
record and much more experience at 2B and 3B in addition to SS.

CardsFanInChitown2
1 year 8 months ago

Still have to get another bench bat with some power…. Mark Reynolds would be a great backup/bench guy

Lanidrac
1 year 8 months ago

Taveras should provide some decent pop off the bench once he gets called up (or Adams if Taveras manages to push him to the bench).

Matt Talken
1 year 8 months ago

Taveras won’t be on the bench though. They’ll want him getting ABs, so he’ll either be one of the main three starters in the OF or he’ll be in AAA, most likely.

Maybe late in the season, I could see them bringing him up as a 4th OF if he hasn’t forced his way onto the roster yet, but not at first.

Lanidrac
1 year 8 months ago

He’ll force his way onto the roster well before then, which will put him mostly on the bench if he can’t play CF full-time and can’t outhit Matt Adams. The Cardinals did the same thing with both Craig and Adams.

Matt Talken
1 year 8 months ago

You have a good point with Craig and Adams, but they weren’t top 10 in all of baseball-type prospects.

I still have a feeling that if/when Taveras comes up, it’ll be because they plan on handing him the lion’s share of the innings in CF.

Perhaps I’m being optimistic about his defensive capabilities though.

Matt Talken
1 year 8 months ago

Taveras won’t be on the bench though. They’ll want him getting ABs, so he’ll either be one of the main three starters in the OF or he’ll be in AAA, most likely.

Maybe late in the season, I could see them bringing him up as a 4th OF if he hasn’t forced his way onto the roster yet, but not at first.

1 year 8 months ago

Great signing. Gives you nice depth, and a guy who can plug in.

kcstengelSr
1 year 8 months ago

Even less options at keystone for the Bronx.

Kevin Wisla
1 year 8 months ago

With every move like this it brings me closer to the harsh reality Brandon Phillips will probably play second for the Yankees next year.

Alison Lurie
1 year 8 months ago

may not be the worst idea

Kevin Wisla
1 year 8 months ago

It’s a pretty bad idea.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 8 months ago

Phillips is a decent option for Yanks and if Reds are truly trying to dump him it shouldnt take a big package to acquire Phillips. Just the player the yanks can look forward to build the team. Salary dumps, overpaying for FA.

DerekJeterDan
1 year 8 months ago

In no way is that a “harsh reality”

Kevin Wisla
1 year 8 months ago

If you check any offensive stat it shows he is obviously declining. Let me correct myself from up there: Brandon Phillips playing second for the Yankees in 2014 –> good idea, Brandon Phillips playing second for the Yankees in 2016 and 2017 –> BAD idea.

Alison Lurie
1 year 8 months ago

they need to do something. Kelly Johnson can play third if we need.

Kevin Wisla
1 year 8 months ago

I agree, they definitely need to add someone. I would be fine with bringing back Mark Reynolds to man 3B to take some at-bats against LHP. However, he is too poor defensively to be counted on there for a full season. In that case they’d need to add a either a LH platoon at third or use Johnson at third the rest of the time and add a 2B. Neither option looks particularly easy to do right now.

Omar Infante fit so well for NYY its a shame they couldn’t land him. I am glad they didn’t offer 4-years, however.

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

Nope. Yanks can’t afford him. Not if they stay under the luxury cap.

Kevin Wisla
1 year 8 months ago

If A-Rod is suspended anything less than 162 games, they’re going over $189. I think it’s pretty telling they were offering Infante $8MM and still intend to spend on Tanaka. They have about ~11MM left under $189 (with A-Rod suspended), so offering that much to Infante with interest in paying Tanaka shows they probably will blow past it.

Rumor has it Hal has said its ohkay to go over if they have too. Its not entirely impossible to stay under $189MM because they can do other moves such as find an Ichiro trade/trade Gardner for an infielder/starter, but its going to be tough at this point and they’ll have to be creative. I think they’re next move will be pretty telling about what their intentions are. I just don’t think its as big of a mandate as originally thought because the Yankees lost $58 million in ticket revenue this year, a number they attribute to missing the playoffs. That much money is more than they’d save by going under $189MM for a year. I think after this year they realized the playoffs are more financially beneficial to the franchise than the luxury tax mandate.

jaybuck
1 year 8 months ago

Fantastic job by Mo this offseason. The Cards are poised to be a force yet again.

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

Very good signing. It’s been a very good off season for the Cards.

jaybuck
1 year 8 months ago

Ellis is primarily a 2nd basemen, but he has minimal experience at the other infield positions.

Theodore John Repp IV
1 year 8 months ago

In John Mozeliak, We Trust.

Ruthlessly Absurd
1 year 8 months ago

He’s no Ty Wigginton!

Ryan
1 year 8 months ago

Everybody needs to get over the Ty Wiggington signing by Mo . At the time it was exactly what the Cards needed, ie a power right handed bat off the bench who could play on infield. If you blame anyone, it is the scouting department to think he had anything left in the tank.

Ruthlessly Absurd
1 year 8 months ago

Well first of all, I’m completely over it. It’s not like we gave up anything we couldn’t lose (5 million). However, it still falls on Mo. I mean, Twiggy had a .688 OPS the previous year, in a hitter’s park, and was -1.5 WAR if you put any stock in that. I think signing such a hitter–at age 35, mind you–to a two year deal is a pretty blameworthy offense

Eric Vossmeyer
1 year 8 months ago

The second year was the only really bad thing about that signing. If they weren’t sure about Adams ability to contribute in 2013 (Wiggy would’ve played mostly 1B), he certainly would’ve been contributing this coming year and Wiggy would’ve been without a role – like he was when Adams won a roster spot in spring.

Nick Costanza
1 year 8 months ago

You can’t possibly defend that move. I understand that people piled on but you’re acting just as unreasonable saying it was “exactly what the Cards needed”.

Jeffy25
1 year 8 months ago

Left?

Wiggington never had anything in the tank to start with.

One of the worst players in baseball history actually. A really bad option both at the time, and overall.

Moz has had a nice off-season.

I wanted Jeff Baker here instead, but Ellis is fine.

LordOfTheSwings
1 year 8 months ago

Would have been a good signing for the Yankees

ice_hawk10
1 year 8 months ago

Ehh… he’s not that much of an upgrade over Kelly Johnson

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

Johnson’s playing third.

bret
1 year 8 months ago

Good pick up for the Cards. Nice to have that veteran leadership accompany their young ball club.

TJ
1 year 8 months ago

Yet another perfect pick up for the Cardinals. Perfect compliment to Wong and even a replacement if Wongs not ready. Veteran leadership and good clubhouse guy. Plus I think he’ll get about 5 mil. Mo is the man.

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

Meh. I think if I’m the Cards I grab someone who can play other positions too. Ellis is strictly a 2B and if things go well with Wong he’ll barely ever play, which makes for a very inefficient bench. Not even a good enough hitter to pinch hit very often.

Interesting thing is that the Yanks obviously didn’t make an offer. You’d think Ellis would have taken a starting job if available. I don’t know what they’re thinking.

MoCrash
1 year 8 months ago

Cardinals have Descalso as a utility infielder.

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

Two light hitting middle infielders is not a great use of half your pinch-hitting slots. That’s exactly my point: In the NL, you’re much better off with one guy backing up 2B and SS.

MoCrash
1 year 8 months ago

The Cardinals will likely carry 3 back-up IFs total (Carpenter can also play 1B), which is the norm.

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

You mean Ellis, Descalso, and Kozma? You don’t count as a “bench” player if you’re starting at 3B.

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

Cards bench: Adams, Jay, Descalso, Ellis? Ellis the only righty. It’s OK but I would have looked for someone who can play both 2B and SS so Descalso can be cut and someone who can bash LOOGY’s brought on. Not a huge deal; they’re still going to be good.

Eric Vossmeyer
1 year 8 months ago

Adams isn’t going to be on the bench. He’ll be playing first. The bench is going to lack pop, except when both Bourjos and Jay are playing and Craig, Holliday or Adams are on the bench. I have a filling the bench is going to be very fluid after Jay, Cruz and Ellis, but probably a lot of Descalso. I never get too bent out of shape about bench composition, injuries and performance will lead to a carousel of guys like Kozma, Garcia, Grichuk, O’Niell, Taveras, and the like before long.

Jeffy25
1 year 8 months ago

Adams is starting at first, Craig is in right.

Cruz joins this bench

Jay, Descalso, Ellis and Cruz

Lanidrac
1 year 8 months ago

He’ll still be the third (or possibly even second) best bench hitter on the team after whichever two don’t start any given day between Jay, Bourjos, Adams, and Taveras.

Theodore John Repp IV
1 year 8 months ago

Farewell, Pete Kozma…thank you for your Defensive contributions, and your overall play in 2012.

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

Don’t be too quick to dismiss him. He’s still under team control for the minimum and we may well see him in 2014 in some capacity.

john sands
1 year 8 months ago

That would be criminal ..

stl_cards16
1 year 8 months ago

I’d say more criminal would be counting on Descalso as your only backup SS. One of Kozma or Garcia should be on the team out of Spring Training.

Theodore John Repp IV
1 year 8 months ago

So you think Garcia will beat out Descalso then, correct?

stl_cards16
1 year 8 months ago

Do I think that? No. Do I think going into the season with Descalso as the only player on the bench who can play SS is a bad idea? Yes

Theodore John Repp IV
1 year 8 months ago

The problem with having Kozma and Descalso on the bench is that we would have only 4 outfielders. One of which would be Craig. That would be worrisome as well.

kcstengelSr
1 year 8 months ago

can wong play short for brief spells?

Theodore John Repp IV
1 year 8 months ago

Can he, yes (although probably not very well). Will he, no.

kcstengelSr
1 year 8 months ago

thanks. just wondering if wong could play short to complete a game in case of some combo collision injury and then the redbirds call someone up for longer stretches if injuries are more serious. i guess you answered that, and i appreciate it.

stl_cards16
1 year 8 months ago

I agree. Kozma and Descalso are both pretty limited in what they provide the team. I know this is not a popular opinion, but of the two, I’d take Kozma on the bench. I’m pretty sure he can backup 3B at least as well as Descalso does SS. I just think having a strong defensive SS on the bench would be nice with Peralta being the everyday guy. We will see how it all shakes out. I’d love to see Garcia go into ST and earn the utility infielder job.

MoCrash
1 year 8 months ago

During much of the 2013 season, the Cardinals carried 11 pitchers (10 in the Series), so there’s room for a 5th OF.

Lanidrac
1 year 8 months ago

Not during the regular season they didn’t. The Cardinals would never carry less than 12 pitchers during the regular season for more than a few days as long as guys like Matheny and Lilliquist are in the dugout.

Eric Vossmeyer
1 year 8 months ago

I know Kozma is working out at 2B and 3B this winter. And if he can prove adequate at this positions in spring, he could replace DD as that “25th man” but there are organizational options if something long term happens with Peralta and Descalso comes north. Ultimately, I really, really like that my team’s “biggest” concern in December is a the backup shortstop.

Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog
1 year 8 months ago

I’ve always been a Mark Ellis guy. Great addition for a very smart club.

Mil8Ball
1 year 8 months ago

Mark Ellis is a good emergency option if everything goes Wong at 2nd base again.