The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a one-year contract with second baseman Mark Ellis, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ellis will make a base salary of $5.25 million in 2014 and can earn upwards of a million more in incentives, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
The Cardinals' signing of Ellis comes as a bit of a surprise to those who believed that top prospect Kolten Wong would be the Cardinals' second baseman next season. Ellis has also played some third base throughout his career, and an industry source believes that Wong will "be the guy" for the Cardinals at second base with Ellis serving as "infield insurance." As Rosenthal writes, Ellis bats right while Wong bats left, causing St. Louis to view Ellis as "protection if Wong struggles."
The Cardinals' infield will likely consist of Matt Adams at first base, Wong at second, free agent signee Jhonny Peralta at shortstop and Carpenter at third, with Ellis, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma available off the bench.
Ellis, 36, has also been linked to the Royals, Rays and Dodgers this offseason, and also seemed like a fit for the Yankees once Robinson Cano and Omar Infante signed elsewhere. He is viewed around the league as a solid veteran option off the bench, causing significant interest this winter.
In 126 games for the Dodgers last season, Ellis hit .270 with 6 HR and 48 RBI while serving as the team's primary second baseman. In eleven major league seasons with the Athletics (2002-2011), Rockies (2011) and Dodgers (2012-2013), he is a lifetime .265 with 105 HR and 538 RBI.