Coco Crisp already broke half of this news on Twitter, but the A’s have officially exercised his $5.75 million option and picked up their $6 million option on Mark Ellis for 2011.
Two months ago there was some speculation that the A’s would decline Ellis’ option and perhaps try to work out a new contract at a lesser salary and manager Bob Geren went so far as to remove Ellis in the seventh inning of the team’s final home game so the crowd in Oakland could give him a standing ovation.
Turns out, the sendoff wasn’t needed because Ellis will be back for a ninth season in Oakland after hitting .291/.358/.381 with his usual strong defense in 124 games this year. Among the 27 second basemen who played at least 100 games this season Ellis ranked 12th with an adjusted OPS+ of 102 and he led AL second basemen in Ultimate Zone Rating at 12.7 runs per 150 games.
In other words, there are probably quite a few teams crossing Ellis off their free agent wish list right now.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.