I almost feel bad writing about this, because there’s absolutely nothing that should take precedence over Matt Kemp coming to terms on a new $160m extension (pending, of course, a physical). Yet the wheels keep turning and I can’t simply ignore the news, because ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that the Dodgers may have a new second baseman:
Mark Ellis is on the verge of a two-year deal with the Dodgers.
Alright, I guess. We all know the second base market is dire, especially now that Aaron Hill has returned to Arizona, and though Ellis is coming off a brutal .288 OBP and will be 35 this season, he’s long been regarded as a plus defender. I’d love to not give him two years, yet in a world where Willie Bloomquist is getting two-year pacts, you can see how that might be unavoidable. At least I’m sure he’s not getting a ton of money, though. Wait, what
Ellis’s deal with the Dodgers worth a little less than $4.5 million per year, over the two years.
…and there it is. (Ken Rosenthal now confirms the deal, two years, $8.75m.) Mark Ellis is coming off a .288 OBP and is the proud owner of a better wOBA than Jamey Carroll exactly one time going back to 2006, yet he’s going to pull down about a million dollars more per season than the Carroll contract we didn’t even particularly like. Ellis was once a solid player with some pop, hitting double-digit homers each year between 2005-09, but that’s declined precipitously as he’s aged and been injured, averaging 33.5 days on the disabled list over the last four seasons. (h/t to pal Jay Jaffe on that stat.) Ellis is pretty one-dimensional now, since he doesn’t get on base well, doesn’t have a lot of power, and only has real value in his defense. Age and injuries – particularly leg injuries, which is what Ellis has had – can do a lot to diminish an infielder, so if Ellis suffers even a little with the glove, that’s going to make him a trouble spot, quickly. At least he’s not going to cost the Dodgers a draft pick, though the Rockies do pick up one on their end.
As you can imagine, the reaction on Twitter has been negative/sad/hilarious depending on your perspective.
Guys, Ned Colletti has to give Ellis $4.5M/yr. Some knucklehead already set the market for roughly 1 WAR players with the Juan Rivera deal.
I think an Uribe/Gordon/Ellis/Loney infield is going to hit just fine. But I’m also a Giants fan, and my perspective is alllll screwed up.
Dodgers to spend almost 10 million in 2011 on Juan Rivera and Mark Ellis
And so on. The best part is, you know – you just know – that Dee Gordon (.325 OBP) and Ellis (.288 OBP) are going to hit 1-2, because of course they will. I’ll grant that each has a chance to improve on those numbers, yet neither are likely to be above-average at getting on base. And isn’t that what you want, setting up for your new $160m center fielder? Granted, there’s not a lot of better alternatives… it just seems backward, is all.
If there’s positives here… well, as hilariously awful as the starting infield might be at the plate, there’s potential for at least three good gloves, plus the potential for Gordon to improve. It almost makes me wish the Dodgers had been the one to take a $5m gamble on a groundballer like Derek Lowe, but perhaps something similar can still be done. Plus, since Ellis can’t play short and the Dodgers don’t seem to view Uribe in that light, maybe this is the welcome end of Aaron Miles, since Justin Sellers would seem to have the edge in versatility. It’s certainly another black mark against the presumed Dodger career of Ivan DeJesus, anyway.
Back to Kemp, let’s not let that great news be overwhelmed so easily by this. When we look back on this day, we’re going to remember the Kemp signing, hopefully the one that put this franchise back on the right footing, and not the signing of yet another questionable Ned Colletti creamy veteran goodness of mediocre vintage, so let’s keep that discussion up in the comments. R.J. Anderson checks in at Baseball Prospectus with a positive review of the move:
Keep in mind that these are the Dodgers. Frank McCourt aside, this should be an organization able to throw around its financial girth more often than an isolated incident here and there. That should ease the qualm most people will have with handing Kemp a giant contract with a year of team control remaining. There is risk involved with any eight-year deal, and Kemp is not the exception. And yet, if Kemp has another big season, or if other teams in the league view him as a potential superstar, then the Dodgers may have saved themselves money by re-signing him now. Add in the goodwill generated for a franchise that could use some, and the Dodgers are making a worthy enough gamble.
Agreed. By the way, the surest indication that this deal is done? Bill Shaikin, as always:
Scoreboard on youth field where
#Dodgers expected to announce Kemp contract: Home 27, Visitor 0.