LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Thursday declined the 2014 options on left-hander Chris Capuano and second baseman Mark Ellis, buying out each for $1 million to make them free agents, although either could re-sign with the club.
The Dodgers and Capuano had a mutual option at $8 million for 2014, while the club held a $5.75 million option on Ellis. The team seems to have more interest in bringing back Ellis, but in a reduced role after signing Cuban free agent infielder Alexander Guerrero, based on comments made last week by general manager Ned Colletti.
Ellis, 36, would be viewed as insurance at second base if the 26-year-old Guerrero isn't ready to start the season in the Major Leagues. Ellis also could be a starting option at second if the Dodgers believe Guerrero can handle shortstop and Hanley Ramirez would be willing to move to third base. The Dodgers will evaluate Guerrero while he plays in the Dominican winter league.
Ellis was a finalist for the National League Gold Glove Award this year -- he lost out to Brandon Phillips. Ellis hit .270 with six homers and 48 RBIs in 126 games in 2013, his second season with the Dodgers, and had one stint on the disabled list with a strained right quad early in the season.
Capuano, 35, had a rugged season in 2013, also his second with the club. He went on the disabled list in April with a strained calf muscle suffered in a benches-clearing incident with the Padres, then in June with a strained lat muscle and was limited in September with a strained groin. He went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 24 games, 20 starts, one of them on three days' rest in June when the club was in a real jam. He would still be valuable to the club as a left-handed swingman, but not at an $8 million salary, especially with right-handers batting .312 against him.
Capuano was a surprise addition to the roster for the NL Division Series against Atlanta and stepped up to win Game 3 with three scoreless innings of relief, but was left off the roster for the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals. The Dodgers still need to improve the back end of their rotation, but seem focused on landing Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, re-signing Ricky Nolasco and giving a shot to one of their young pitchers like Zach Lee or Ross Stripling.
The Dodgers now have 12 free agents: Capuano, Ellis, Jerry Hairston, J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol, Nolasco, Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Juan Uribe, Edinson Volquez, Brian Wilson, Michael Young. Peter Moylan, designated for assignment, also elected free agency.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.