Somewhat surprisingly the Los Angeles Dodgers declined their $5.75 million option on Mark Ellis last night which carried a buyout of $1 million. The decision to decline the option was likely made because of the Dodgers recent signing of Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero for four years and $28 million. Ellis was a bargain for the Dodgers this year hitting .270/.323/.351 in 126 games along with six home runs. A good chunk of his value came on the defensive side of the ledger as he had 12 defensive runs saved (second in the league among second basemen). He's also near the top of the list when looking at UZR over the course of the past few seasons. Basically, Mark Ellis is everything the Blue Jays weren't at second base this year.
The 36-year-old's salary for 2013 was only $5.25 million, which resulted in 3.0 WAR on Baseball Reference and 1.8 WAR on Fangraphs (defence is calculated differently). In every single one of Ellis' 11 major league seasons he's accumulated at least 1.0 WAR and his career average is around 2.5 so he's not considered to be too much of a risk, especially with his salary that has a fair value of only about one win. The only question mark about Ellis is his age and how much longer he can keep up the great play at second base. Injury history might be a slight red flag as he was involved in a brutal collision in early 2012 that almost cost him his leg.
Now comes the question of whether the Blue Jays should be in on the Ellis sweepstakes. Ryan Goins showed he was a competent second baseman at the end of the season and Maicer Izturis is still on the Toronto payroll as well. If Ellis were to be signed, Goins could spend a year or two as a backup and Izturis would likely be dealt to another team. It's tough to predict what the market for Ellis will be, but he definitely is deserving of a pay raise. Somewhere in the area of $6 million to $7 million seems to be a fair guess of what it will cost to get him.
It seems this is a tremendous fit for the Blue Jays and I really would like the signing to happen. As I was watching Ellis in the postseason I started to really take notice of his ability, only after I realized there was two different players named Ellis on the Dodgers mind you. It seems that this would be the perfect Alex Anthopoulos value signing that wouldn't raise the payroll too much after the craziness of last offseason. We might as well put our prediction hats on and guess what Ellis would come north of the border for. I'll say a Marco Scutaro type deal (3 years $20 million), but for one less year. That would make it a two year $13.5 million contract. What are your thoughts folks?