Catcher A.J. Ellis is coming back, and apparently so are all seven other Dodgers eligible for arbitration.
The Dodgers signed infielder Darwin Barney to a one-year contract for $2.525 million and tendered contracts to the other seven players prior to Tuesday's 9 p.m. deadline.
The return of Ellis is easily the biggest news. A popular and much respected player in the clubhouse, the catcher was coming off an injury-filled 2014 season that saw his batting average plummet to .191 and there was concern among teammates he might not be back.
Ellis, 34 next April, signed a one-year deal for $3.55 million last season in his first year of arbitration. Despite his down 2014, with an additional year of service time, Ellis still figures to be in for a slight raise.
Teams try to sign players to whom they tender contracts to avoid going through the arbitration process. Teams and players have until Jan. 16 to exchange salary figures. If a contract agreement cannot be reached and the arbitration process does become necessary, hearings are scheduled to start Feb. 1.
That indicates Ellis and Butera will both return as the Dodgers’ catchers. The teams' new president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, either believed Ellis’ off year was largely due to injury, or he could not find anyone better, or both.
Still, it was hard to imagine a team that had a record $240-million payroll last season would not tender its starting catcher over the difference of a couple hundred thousand dollars.