Mark Ellis has become a free agent. Will the Toronto Blue Jays pursue the veteran second baseman? Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Free Agent Targets: Second Baseman Mark Ellis


Name: Mark Ellis

Position: Second Base

Stats:

Year G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2002 98 404 58 94 16 4 6 35 4 2 44 54 .272 .359 .394 .753
2003 154 622 78 137 31 5 9 52 6 2 48 94 .248 .313 .371 .684
2004 Did not play in major leagues (Injured)
2005 122 486 76 137 21 5 13 52 1 3 44 51 .316 .384 .477 .861
2006 124 500 64 110 25 1 11 52 4 0 40 76 .249 .319 .385 .704
2007 150 642 84 161 33 3 19 76 9 4 44 94 .276 .336 .441 .777
2008 117 507 55 103 20 3 12 41 14 2 53 65 .233 .321 .373 .694
2009 105 410 52 99 23 0 10 61 10 3 23 54 .263 .305 .403 .708
2010 124 492 45 127 24 0 5 49 7 6 40 56 .291 .358 .381 .739
2011 132 519 55 119 24 1 7 41 14 5 22 75 .248 .288 .346 .634
2011 62 233 21 47 11 1 1 16 7 2 8 32 .217 .253 .290 .544
2011 70 286 34 72 13 0 6 25 7 3 14 43 .274 .317 .392 .708
2012 110 464 62 107 21 1 7 31 5 0 40 70 .258 .333 .364 .697
2013 126 480 46 117 13 2 6 48 4 1 26 74 .270 .323 .351 .674
11 Yrs 1362 5526 675 1311 251 25 105 538 78 28 424 763 .265 .330 .390 .720
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/3/2013.

Background

Mark Ellis, 36, was a bit of a surprising addition to the free agent pool after the Los Angeles Dodgers declined his $5.75 million team option in favour of its $1 million buyout. The Dodgers recently acquired Cuban free agent Alexander Guerrero and signed him to a four-year $20 million deal and he’s expected to replace Ellis at second base next season.

Even with the addition to Guerrero, I figured the Dodgers would exercise Ellis’ option for 2014 and at least try to deal him for a low-level prospect rather than paying $1 million to not have him on their roster. He had a nice season in 2013 and batted .270/.323/.351 in 126 games to go along with a 3.0 rWAR and 1.8 fWAR.

Ellis has never been known as the game’s most durable player and required emergency leg surgery in 2012 after a collision at second base and had a stint on the 15-day DL this year with a quad injury. He also missed a few games in June with a minor groin issue and dealt with various other bumps and nicks throughout the year.

Even into the later years of his career, Ellis still plays a very good defensive second base. He was valued at 12 defensive runs saved, which was second to only Dustin Pedroia among all qualifying 2B. And his UZR/150 of 7.8 was just a shade below his career mark of 9.1.

For a player that doesn’t produce much power it would be nice if Ellis walked more frequently (5.4% in 2013) and strikes out about three times as often. His BABIP was a little higher than his career average this year at .310 and Steamer projects a .256/.314/.357 triple slash in 2014.

Projection

First of all as unfortunate as it is even if the Blue Jays are interested in Mark Ellis I’m sure the cement turf in Toronto isn’t his first choice of destination. Not to mention the Jays weren’t exactly knocking on the door to being World Series champions last year. So they would most likely have to bid top dollar if they wish to lure him north of the border.

Teams that I believe may have interest in Ellis could be the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals. After the cream of the free agent class, Robinson Cano, there isn’t much when it comes to inspiring names in the free agent pool at second base this year.

It’s tough to predict what Ellis will fetch in free agency but I think he will sign for at least as much as what his option was worth. I could even see a team going in on a two-year deal in the neighbourhood of $12 million as I think that Ellis and his agent will be looking for a deal longer than one term.

The Blue Jays currently have 25-year-old Ryan Goins looking to compete with veteran Maicer Izturis at second base next season and there’s also been rumors of their interest in Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham. However Ellis most likely has a higher floor than any of those players and if healthy would avoid the Jays from having a black hole of offensive production at second base next season.

Whether or not the Blue Jays will pursue Ellis remains to be seen. But I’ll admit that I’m intrigued by the idea. If GM Alex Anthopoulos does look to improve the team at second base this offseason if you look at this list of other available candidates Mark Ellis might be the way to go.

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  • david s

    He is old but good. Hopefully Goins will hit better with time. Man is that boy sweet to watch turning the double play. Makes me want to forget Goins’ high strikeout rate and .260 avg.

    • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

      Goins sure is smooth as butter at second… makes tough plays look easy.