ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals signed free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis to a one-year, $5.25 million contract, giving them insurance for rookie Kolten Wong.
In a conference call after the deal was announced Monday, the 36-year-old Ellis said he had some multiyear offers but chose the Cardinals because he wants to win a World Series. Ellis played for the Dodgers in the NL championship series last fall against St. Louis, which won the Series in 2011 and lost in six games to the Red Sox in 2013.
“I am fully fine with one-year deals at this point in my career,” Ellis said. “There were some good opportunities, very good teams and very good organizations. I felt like this was the perfect place for myself and my family.”
The contract calls for an additional $125,000 at 250 plate appearances and for every 25 plate appearances after that up to 475 plate appearances.
“Nothing was promised,” Ellis said. “I’ve pretty much been an everyday player my whole career. I’m going to prepare this offseason like I’m going to play 162 games.”
Ellis is a lifetime .265 hitter for three teams. He hit .270 with six home runs and 48 RBIs for the Dodgers last season, and is considered a strong defensive second baseman. He’s had only spot duty at other infield positions during his career, but was open to that option, noting he played third base two years in college and was a shortstop growing up.
“I’m not so stubborn I have a huge ego that I have to be the second baseman,” Ellis said. “I don’t care. I want to do whatever it takes to win a World Series.”
Wong, a first-round pick in 2011, made his major league debut last year and is expected to get the starting shot at second base in 2014. Matt Carpenter moves to third base following the trade of David Freese to the Angels and Ellis provides a right-handed hitting option, plus he’s open to a mentor role.
Before learning of Carpenter’s position switch, Ellis hadn’t thought the Cardinals would be a good fit.
“Mark is a player we identified early-on as being an ideal fit for our team,” general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. “His experience and steadiness, both in the field and at the plate, certainly enhances our overall roster makeup.”
Ellis has appeared in 22 postseason games and batted .240 in the NLCS last fall with a double, triple and stolen base.
Ellis has hit 20 or more doubles nine of the past 10 years and is a career .276 hitter with a .348 on-base percentage against left-handed pitching. He was a ninth round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1999.
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