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Dodgers tender contract to A.J. Ellis, others

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers elected to tender a 2015 contract to catcher A.J. Ellis, the team announced Tuesday night.

Ellis batted .191 last season, but the Dodgers value his ability to work with their pitchers, particularly with the National League's reigning Cy Young and MVP winner Clayton Kershaw, a close friend. Kershaw had made his feelings about Ellis' future clear in a series of interviews following the Dodgers' elimination at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs.

Ellis, 33, dealt with in-season knee surgery and a subsequent ankle injury last season, his worst since becoming the Dodgers' primary catcher in 2012. He is a .242 lifetime hitter who averaged 11 home runs and 52 RBIs in his two previous seasons. He's also known for having a discerning eye. His .343 lifetime on-base percentage is well above the league average.

The Dodgers also reached a one-year contract agreement with infielder Darwin Barney for $2.52 million, and tendered contracts to the remainder of their arbitration-eligible players: Kenley Jansen, Dee Gordon, Drew Butera, Justin Turner, Juan Nicasio and Chris Heisey, who was acquired earlier in the evening from the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Matt Magill.

The catching situation gained the most scrutiny heading into Tuesday night's non-tender deadline because Dodgers catchers had the lowest batting average (.181) in the majors last year, but the top catcher on the open market, former Dodger Russell Martin, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and there were few other options available.

Ellis almost certainly will make more than the $3.5 million he made in 2014. The biggest pay increase will go to Jansen, who made $4.3 million last season and converted 44 saves with a 2.76 ERA.