October 15, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis (14) leaps after he throws to first to turn a double play as St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay (19) slides into second in the sixth inning in game four of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Royals Target Mark Ellis?


October 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis (14) fields a hit in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the offseason, the Royals have several holes to fill on their roster. Even if Ervin Santana is retained, the Royals could still need a couple of starting pitchers. Emilio Bonifacio played well as the starting second baseman after coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in August, but may be better suited for the utility role that he has played throughout most of his career. The Royals could also use an upgrade in right over the David Lough/Justin Maxwell platoon.

For now, let us focus on second base. The top potential free agents at second consist of Robinson Cano and, after a steep drop off, Omar Infante. Cano is a pipe dream, so there is no point in discussing his availability. Infante is a bit more interesting; however, as he is coming off a career season, may end up being out of the Royals price range. This brings us down to the next tier of free agents, to the Brian Roberts and the Mark Ellis section.

Of the players in that area, Ellis may be the player that could fit best with the Royals. Not only has Ellis hit reasonably well over his career, producing a .265/.330/.390 batting line in his eleven major league seasons. In 2013, Ellis hit at a .270/.323/.351 clip, with a bit of power.

However, where Ellis truly excels is with the glove. Throughout his career, he has been one of the top defensive players at second base, rating highly in range factor and total zone runs. In fact, his 86 total zone runs saved is not only the best of any active second baseman, but is fifth all time. Ellis also has the second highest range factor per nine of any active second baseman, trailing only Placido Polanco. For those that prefer more traditional fielding statistics such as fielding percentage, Ellis ranks highly there as well, as his .991 fielding percentage is third amongst active players, and fifth all time at second.

What Ellis could provide the Royals is someone that could potentially slot in towards the bottom part of the lineup, and provide excellent defense up the middle. Paired with Alcides Escobar, the Royals infield defense would likely be much stronger than it had been in past seasons, helping the pitching staff. When coupled with the fact that Ellis likely would not command much in a contract, possibly leaving the Royals with the financial flexibility to upgrade other areas of the roster, it may turn out where he would be the best option for the Royals at second.

Mark Ellis may be 36 heading into next season, but on a one or two year contract, he could make sense for Kansas City. If nothing else, at least he is not Chris Getz.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Aside from the gratuitous Getz snark, interesting piece. I admit that Ellis wasn’t on my radar. Any ideas of what kind of contract we’re looking at? I like that he has a plus glove over Bonifacio, but Boni does have the good speed to add to similar offense… Ellis had four steals last year, not good speed, and Dodgers declined a $5.75m option on him, so he might be a bit expensive for what may be a slight offensive upgrade over Bonifacio but apparently a solid defensive upgrade. Looks possible for a short contract.

    • Dave Hill

      That’s exactly my thought. I think maybe one year at $4million may be able to get Ellis, if the Royals don’t think that Colon is ready yet.

      • jimfetterolf

        I find his defense intriguing, has a bit of a Mark Grudzelanik(SP?) look to him and I think losing Grudz was a huge mistake at the time.

        I don’t think Colon is ready yet, would like a good spring and solid early start at Omaha, then see him come up as UIF for the season, then replace Boni in ’15, but the idea of Ellis is growing on me, a relatively elite glove and I’m a guy who thinks a run saved equals a run made.

        With fDef of 7 in 126 games compared to Boni’s 1 in 42, his defense is some variation of twice as valuable as Boni’s. Career splits have Boni better against lefties, Ellis with fairly even splits, so probably edge to Ellis, who hit better against righties last year than Bonifacio. I’m thinking Bonifacio had a similar contract to Ellis’ $4.4m last year, Boni not a minimum wage guy. Ellis’ 7 fDef puts him 5th among 2B with over 450 PA, good glove, not elite, but a step up for a team extremely dependent on the leather.

        Could be interesting, Ellis is the type of veteran Dayton Moore likes and Bonifacio is a versatile utility guy, able to also play CF. Team looks to be stronger with Ellis over Colon, that would force Colon to really earn his shot next year, a good thing.

  • hemroid

    The fans in LA don’t regard Mr. Ellis that greatly and some of the comments I have read about him indicated that in the second half of the season, his range dropped sharply. I would rather take my chances on Boni or Colon, save the money and give it to a pitcher that will keep us in the game.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.

    • Dave Hill

      Admittedly, I didn’t get to see much of Ellis, since I’m on the East Coast. However, the games I saw, he seemed fine defensively.