Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned this morning that the Oakland Athletics might be interested in reacquiring Mark Ellis. It seemed a odd link at first, so I decided to check out the stats. As it turns out, the deal makes quite a bit of sense.
Ellis, who played for the Athletics for parts of nine seasons, is a hitting a solid .275 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, he has just nine extra-base hits on the season and owns a .673 OPS. The reason why the Athletics would be looking to bring him back is to strengthen the lineup against left-handers.
The veteran could certainly help with that. In 2013, he’s hitting .291 off lefties, and has struck three of his four home runs against them. He had enjoyed success off left-handers historically, and hit .321 against LHP last season. Essentially, he’d be a perfect platoon partner for Eric Sogard.
The second baseman earns $5.25 million this season, and has a team option for $5.75 million in 2014 with a $1 million buyout. It’s a bit steep, but more than workable especially if the Dodgers want to throw in a million bucks to offset the buyout.
It’s unclear if or why the Dodgers would want to offload Ellis, although the NL West leaders do have a number of veteran infielders on the roster. Second base could even be a position that the heavy-spending Dodgers are looking to upgrade themselves.
The Rapid City, South Dakota native shouldn’t come at too high of a price in terms of prospects — maybe a mid-level pitching prospect and a player to be named later. When the team shipped Ellis to the Colorado Rockies back in the summer of 2011, the team received a pitcher (Bruce Billings) who’s currently 10-4 in Triple-A, and an outfielder (Eliezer Mesa) who is no longer with the organization.
If the Athletics can pick up Ellis on the cheap, they might just be able to shore up the middle infield situation and the lineup against lefties. He’s also one of the classiest Athletics in recent memory. I say do it.