Former Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis is reportedly set to join the St. Louis Cardinals, agreeing to a one-year contract with the defending National League champions, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Monetary terms are not yet known.
The Cardinals plan to use Ellis "to challenge and complement" rookie Kolten Wong, who is expected to be the regular second baseman for St. Louis, per Goold. Ellis could see time at third base as well, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Ellis has played eight career games at third base, but his part of one inning at the position on April 15 was his first time at the hot corner since 2002. It spawned one of my favorite quotes of the year.
"That caught me off guard a little but, but I totally understand. I knew if we needed to do it, it wouldn't be for very long," Ellis said. "Besides, I'm a baseball player."
Ellis hit .270/.323/.351 with six home runs for the Dodgers in 2013, his second season in Los Angeles, with typically solid defense. Ellis, who will turn 37 in June, was one of three National League finalists for the Gold Glove Award at second base.
A right quad strained sidelined Ellis for 19 games in April and May, the sixth straight season he has landed on the disabled list. Over those last six years Ellis has averaged 119 games played and 109 starts per season.
Ellis had a $5.75 million club option for 2014, but on Oct. 31 the Dodgers declined it, opting instead to pay Ellis a buyout of $1 million.
The Dodgers were rumored in recent days to be interested in a return to Los Angeles for Ellis in a reduced role, though it's unsure how much playing time he would have received with starters set at all four infield positions. Third baseman Juan Uribe agreed to terms with the Dodgers on a two-year, $15 million contract on Saturday.
The Dodgers gave $28 million over four years to Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero, who is expected to start at second base, but hamstring injuries have limited the 27-year-old to just 12 games for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League. As of now the Dodgers don't have much of a backup plan at second base other than perhaps Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers.
Reserves Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker have signed elsewhere this offseason. That duo combined with Ellis to start 161 of the 162 games at second base for the Dodgers in 2013. The other start went to Michael Young, who is also a free agent.