Cards close to signing second baseman Mark Ellis

Staff and wire servicesDecember 15, 2013 

The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly reached an agreement to sign right-handed hitting second baseman Mark Ellis to a one-year contract.

The contract is pending a physical according to a story on the team's website stlcardinals.com. The team will not officially confirm the signing until after the deal is completed.

The signing of Ellis, 36, should provide the Cardinals with depth at second base behind rookie Kolten Wong, who is expected to be given an opportunity to win the starting job in spring training.

The 11-year veteran also will give the team a right-handed bat off the bench.

Ellis spent the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2013, he started 106 games at second, batting .270 with six home runs and 48 RBIs.

He also had a .323 on-base percentage and had dependable glove commiting just six errors with a .989 fielding percentage.

Against left-handed pitching in 2013, Ellis batted .282 with four of his six home runs and 15 RBIs.

Before joining the Dodgers, Ellis had spent part of the 2011 season with Colorado. He broke into the majors with Oakland in 2002 and played for the Athletics until being traded to the Rockies on June 30, 2011.

Ellis best season was in 2007 while playing for Oakland, when he hit .276 with a career-high 19 homers and 76 RBIs.

The signing of Ellis will mark the Cardinals third major move of the offseason.

First, the team signed former Tiger Jhonny Peralta to a four-year deal to take over at shortstop.

They later made a four-player trade with the Anaheim Angels that landed them center fielder Peter Bourjos.

The Cardinals also received minor league outfielder Randal Gruchuk in the trade while giving up third baseman and 2011 World Series MVP David Freese and right-handed reliever Fernando Salas.

While Ellis has experience at playing all four infield positions, he almost exclusively has played second base.

Ellis has appeared at shortstop just 15 times in his 11 seasons and not played the position since 2005. He appeared once at third for the Dodgers in 2013, but before that had not taken the field there since his rookie season.

The addition of Ellis may mean there may not be room on the team's major league roster for both Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma.

The two infielders both can play multiple positions, including shortstop, but with Ellis almost assured a spot in the majors, it would mean three of the team's five bench positions would be filled by infielders if both make the team.

Kozma or Descalso could end up in the minors, as both have options remaining. The team, however, did offer Descalso a contract as a first-year arbitration eligible player, which they are currently negotiating. That deal could push Descalso's salary over the $1 million mark.

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