Dodgers, A.J. Ellis avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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The Dodgers and catcher A.J. Ellis have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.55 million contract, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Ellis requested $4.6 million and was offered $3 million from the Dodgers when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this month. The two sides settled for $250,000 under the midpoint, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that he’ll have the chance to make up the difference if he reaches bonuses based on games started and plate appearances. The 32-year-old backstop was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and remains under team control though 2016.

Ellis has compiled a .255/.347/.390 batting line over the past two seasons as the Dodgers’ regular catcher. He has thrown out 37 percent of attempted basestealers during that time.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.