A’s re-sign Ellis for at least 2 years
OAKLAND, Calif. ” Mark Ellis’ first choice was to stay put with Oakland, even if he had tested his value in free agency.
The Athletics secured some stability in the middle of their infield Monday by agreeing on an $11 million, two-year contract to keep the popular second baseman around.
“Oakland always would have been my top choice. It’s where I’m comfortable and where I’ve played my whole career,” Ellis said. “If I know that’s where I want to be there’s no reason to go look around.”
The A’s also have a club option in the deal that could keep Ellis around through the 2011 season. The 31-year-old Ellis, who is coming off right shoulder surgery last month to repair chips in the cartilage as well as a torn labrum, could have become a free agent after the World Series.
He had asked the A’s to postpone any further negotiations on a new contract until the season was over. Both general manager Billy Beane and assistant GM David Forst were optimistic of working something out in a timely manner once the process with Ellis’ representatives got moving.
Ellis gets $5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2010, and the A’s have a $6 million option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout. He can earn an additional $800,000 annually in performance bonuses based on games.
Ellis has spent his first seven years in the big leagues with Oakland, including 2004, when he was sidelined with an injury to the same shoulder.
“We’re really happy to have Mark back,” Forst said. “He was honest all season long that he wanted to be back in Oakland after this year. That made it an easy conversation. Mark was an important part of a lot of playoff teams here and has been an important part of all we’ve done the last seven or eight years.”
Ellis batted .233 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs in 117 games for the A’s in 2008, a rebuilding year for the young club in which Oakland finished 75-86 and with one fewer win than a year ago. He stole 14 bases and committed only four errors. His last game of the year was Aug. 30 as a pinch hitter against the Minnesota Twins.
He hurt the shoulder Aug. 21 at Seattle sliding into second base to break up a double play. Ellis started the following day but came out of the game in the second inning with shoulder pain.
Ellis was examined Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he lives by Dr. Doug Freedberg, who performed the shoulder operation. He is still regaining some mobility in the shoulder and isn’t expected to throw a baseball until the middle of January at the earliest.
“Where I’m at in the recovery is very good for a month out,” Ellis said. “I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m going to take it slow. When I’m ready to play, I’m going to play, whether that’s April 1 or April 15.”
The A’s don’t plan to rush him back. The same goes for six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, also recovering from surgery. Chavez needed another shoulder operation after having both shoulders surgically repaired last year along with his back. Both players are rehabilitating in the Phoenix area.
“We’d love to be optimistic about Eric,” Forst said. “Certainly having him and Mark in place at the start of the season would be great. We’re looking forward to having Mark the next three years, not necessarily opening day. As we’ve learned with Eric, we want to make sure he’s OK for the long haul.”
While playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks might have been an intriguing thought for Ellis, he knows that change isn’t always best.
“It feels good to be wanted by this organization. I’m very happy with the way the A’s have treated me,” he said. “It’s not always easy to play in your hometown.”