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I’m going to play devil’s advocate on this one… or at least try to.

There has been a lot written about Mark Ellis in the last 24 hours, after he signed a two year, $11 million with the A’s. The deal leaves him very underpaid relative to his production, and it’s very strange that he didn’t at least test the free agent market.

But with all that said, there are a number of factors working against him right now:

  1. The free agent market should be significantly more bearish than in recent years, due to the economy.
  2. There are other top-tier second basemen available, including Orlando Hudson (who is a free agent) and Brian Roberts (who is entering the final year of his contract).
  3. Ellis is fresh off of shoulder surgery, the results of which are known only by him, and presumably the A’s.
  4. Ellis’s reputation isn’t nearly as good inside baseball as it is in the blogosphere. We can scream all we want, but it’s the insiders that set the market.
  5. Adding to that, his nominal offensive numbers weren’t very good this year (.233/.321/.373), and he has only hit over .300 once in his career.

With all that taken into account, what could Ellis have gotten on the open market? More than $11 million over two years, certainly, but how much more? It’s possible that Ellis legitimately felt that he was better off taking another shot at free agency in two years.

That said, it’s great deal for the A’s. And it has to be an unexpected bonus for them, since I’m sure they figured Eric Patterson was going to be their second baseman next year.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

4 Existing Comments

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  1. on October 21st at 07:17 pm
    Keith Law said:

    There are other top-tier second basemen available, including Orlando Hudson (who is a free agent) and Brian Roberts (who is entering the final year of his contract).

    For one thing, that’s the end of the list. The next-best 2b free agent on the market is probably Felipe Lopez, and behind him it’s Ramon Vazquez or Nick Punto or something similar.

    For another, Roberts isn’t actually “available;” the Orioles could re-sign him, and if they trade him it won’t be for peanuts.

    I had Ellis as the #2 second baseman on this market, even after the surgery. With him signed, it thins out real fast after O-Dawg.

  2. on October 21st at 10:39 pm
    Shawn said:


    There was a larger point that I should have spelled out completely: this will almost certainly be a down market, and IMO Ellis wouldn’t have had many teams bidding each other up for him. Part of that is due to the fact that there are better players that can be had; part of that also is the fact that 2Bs are often “made” from former shortstops (like relievers are “made” from former starters).

    I should also add that in down periods, it’s usually mid-tier free agents that get hurt the most. Ellis fits that class.

  3. on October 22nd at 12:44 pm
    AsFan said:

    ellis home park really supresses his numbers…look at his road stats over the past 3 or so yr’s he has fairly high .800+ ops and i believe last season for a good while he was among the top al road hitters. add in that his career ops +99 is the same as orlando hudson. of course the injury is a factor but put in decent offense + great defense and you got one of the better 2b in mlb. of course not in the rutey/pedoria/uggla/roberts etc group but maybe 2nd tier. he’s a great veteran influence and will be a huge help to groundball pitchers like cahill, anderson, mazzaro, etc

    i could see eric patterson moved on to a team like stl, they need a 2b. STL has 3rd base depth like freese or craig which A’s need

  4. [...] Kudos to a Gator alum who has found Oakland to be a nice home [Oakland 2B Ellis agrees to re-sign with multiyear contract].  Some think that he is being underpaid [Sandbagging Mark Ellis]. [...]

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