Dodgers finalize two-year, $8.75 million deal with Mark Ellis

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UPDATE: It’s a done deal now. Two years and $8.75 million, with a $5.75 million option for 2014.

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Not having an owner isn’t stopping the Dodgers from spending money this offseason.

Matt Kemp’s eight-year, $160 million contract is all but finalized and now Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the Dodgers are “on the verge” of signing free agent second baseman Mark Ellis to a two-year contract.

According to Olney the deal is worth around $4.5 million per season, which is a big commitment for a 35-year-old who hit just .248 with a .288 on-base percentage and .346 slugging percentage in 132 games for the A’s and Rockies this season.

Ellis gets $1 million more per season than 38-year-old Jamey Carroll got from Minnesota last week, but Carroll is expected to play shortstop and is coming off the two best seasons of his career.

In his prime Ellis was an elite, underrated defender with a decent bat, but few players remain huge assets defensively beyond their mid-30s and Ellis has just 12 homers in 256 games during the past two seasons after posting double-digit homers every year from 2005-2009.

There is a “one million percent” chance Aroldis Champan will opt-out of his deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that there is a “one million percent” chance Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman will opt out once the season ends.

Just going by the math this makes perfect sense, of course.

Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees before the 2017 season. Pursuant to the terms of the deal he’ll make $15 million a year in 2020 and 2021 (he was given an $11 million signing bonus that was finished being paid out last year). This past season the qualifying offer was $17.9 million. Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs just signed a deal that will pay him $16 million in 2020, 2021, and 2022 (he’s making a prorated $16 million this year). Other top closer salaries at the moment include Kenley Jansen ($19,333,334); and Wade Davis ($18 million).

It’s fair to say that Chapman fits into that group and, I think it’s safe to say, more teams would take him than those guys if they were all freely available. As such, Chapman opting out to get more money makes all kinds of sense. Heck, opting out, getting slapped with a qualifying offer, accepting it and then hitting the market unencumbered after the 2020 season would stand him in better financial stead than if he didn’t opt-out in the first place.

The question is whether the Yankees will let it get that far or whether they’ll approach him to renegotiate the final couple of years on the deal or to add some years onto the back of it. If they’re smart they will.