By The Common Man
It’s official. With Jamey Carroll on his way to Minnesota, the Dodgers have reached out and signed Mark Ellis to handle the keystone for the next two years. For the privilege of employing his services, Dylan Hernandez reports they will pay him $8.75 million, but just $2.5 million of which is for 2012. There is team option for a third year, in which the Dodgers can pay Ellis $5.75 million, or let him walk for $1 million.
That’s a pretty remarkable payday for a player who is coming off of a .288 OPB and is so often injured he has only played in 150 games twice in nine seasons. Even at 34, Ellis is still a plus defender at second base, but his offense has taken a hit. Not even a second half in the friendly confines of Colorado could make him look good. He was terrible in his most extensive action since 2007.
It’s not likely to get much better for Ellis. His ability to hit the ball in the air has been in steady decline since 2007, and his line drive percentage dipped to just 14% in 2011. Second basemen, especially when they’ve been hurt as much as Ellis has in his career, tend not to age well. He will probably see some bounce in his overall offensive numbers, but not much, which will probably be balanced by a decrease in his range in the field. Either way, he seems unlikely to be worth the $5.25 million the Dodgers will pay him in 2013.
Frankly, the Dodgers got a worse deal than even the Twins did, even though they got the younger player. They ended up paying almost $2 million more for a player who is less durable. Plus, Carroll’s value has been fairly steady over the past several years, while Ellis has fluctuated wildly based on his health. This just looks like a bad move for Ned Colletti, a man who seemingly never met a mediocre middle infielder he didn’t want to sign to an expensive multi-year deal (see Uribe, Juan). On the bright side, the Dodgers now have cornered the market on all the Ellises in Major League Baseball. So there's that.
Bonus: On the other hand, the Matt Kemp 8-year, $160 million extention looks great to The Common Man. While there's risk involved in signing someone whose performace has been this volatile to such a long contract, Kemp has demonstrated that he is an elite player when both healthy and motivated. He also plays an essential defensive position ably (though not well). While Frank McCourt may have done his level best to try and drive the Dodgers into the ground, the next owner of one of baseball's crown jewels will be glad to have Kemp around, and will have the financial wherewithal to absorb the risk and let the club act like the mega-market team it truly is.