As the the coaching staff under newly appointed Manager Dave Roberts started taking shape with the hiring of bench coach Bob Geren, the Dodgers announced Wednesday they had re-signed catcher A.J. Ellis.
Ellis, who moved into a backup role in 2015 but remained the preferred catcher of Clayton Kershaw, signed a one-year contract worth $4.5 million.
Ellis, 34, was eligible for salary arbitration. However, if he hadn’t agreed to terms before Wednesday night, the Dodgers could have elected to part ways with him rather than engage him a potentially expensive arbitration hearing. Such a process would have likely resulted in Ellis receiving a significant raise from the $4.25 million he was paid this year.
Right-hander Joe Wieland signed Tuesday for $590,000 under similar circumstances.
The Dodgers tendered contracts to six of their eight remaining arbitration-eligible players: closer Kenley Jansen, third baseman Justin Turner, catcher Yasmani Grandal, outfielder Scott Van Slyke, right-hander Chris Hatcher and left-hander Luis Avilan.
The only arbitration-eligible players who weren’t tendered a contract were right-handers Juan Nicasio and Lisalverto Bonilla, who are now free agents.
In Geren, the Dodgers will have an experienced coach to work alongside Roberts, their rookie manager. Geren, 54, managed the Oakland Athletics from 2007 to 2011 while Farhan Zaidi worked in their front office. Zaidi is the Dodgers’ general manager.
Geren, who spent the last four seasons as the bench coach of the New York Mets and was interviewed by the Dodgers for their managerial position, is said to be comfortable with the use of advanced metrics. Geren will replace Tim Wallach, who was on Don Mattingly’s staff for five seasons.
Of the coaches on Mattingly’s staff, only pitching coach Rick Honeycutt is expected to return. Hitting coach Mark McGwire was hired Wednesday as bench coach of the division rival San Diego Padres.
Farm director Gabe Kapler, a finalist for the manager’s post, could be part of the Dodgers’ coaching staff.
Behind the scenes, Neil Rampe will be the Dodgers’ head trainer, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke under the condition of anonymity because the appointment hasn’t been officially announced. The same people said Houston Astros trainer Nate Lucero would join the Dodgers as an assistant trainer.
Rampe, who last season worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks, replaces Stan Conte, who resigned in October after nine seasons.