The deal includes a third-year option.
The 34-year-old Ellis split last year between Oakland and Colorado, hitting .248 with seven homers and 41 RBIs. He would essentially take the place of Jamey Carroll, who signed a two-year, $7 million deal with Minnesota to be their starting shortstop. Ellis, a 10-year veteran, just finished up a three-year, $16.5 million deal.
General manager Ned Colletti last week listed second base as a high offseason priority, along with catching and starting pitching. The Dodgers plan to have Juan Uribe start at third base in 2012, hoping that he can stay healthier there than at second base. Dee Gordon will start at shortstop.
The Dodgers also were interested in infielders Aaron Hill (who re-signed with the D-backs), Clint Barmes and Jerry Hairston Jr.
The Ellis signing allows Colletti to check off another mission as accomplished one day before the start of the General Managers Meetings here. Earlier this month, Colletti re-signed free agent Juan Rivera for $4.5 million with a 2013 option to play left field, and on Monday he reached a preliminary agreement with center fielder Matt Kemp on an eight-year, $160 million extension.
For the most part, the Dodgers had Carroll and Aaron Miles take over second base for the injured Uribe, and both played well. The Dodgers are expected to still have some interest in Miles for a bench role, particularly as a clutch pinch-hitter, although they also have Justin Sellers and Ivan DeJesus Jr. to compete for backup positions. Sellers has the shortstop skills to back up starter Gordon.
At catcher the Dodgers apparently are targeting free agent Matt Treanor to replace Rod Barajas as veteran mentor to A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz. They also spoke to Ryan Doumit but have not made him an offer.
They also will need a starting pitcher if Hiroki Kuroda does not return. Kuroda told the club that he will re-sign only if he feels the team has a chance to win the World Series. Otherwise he will consider other Major League clubs.
Free-agent starters known to be on the club's radar include Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Jeff Francis. The Dodgers are not believed to be interested in re-signing Jon Garland or Vicente Padilla, both of whom sustained season-ending injuries this year.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.