An interesting dynamic is developing within the A’s infield depth chard. With the departure (and return and departure) of Adam Rosales this past season the A’s have a missing piece in their infield puzzle. Looking at an early position-by-position depth chart at second base, shortstop, and third base for next season you can see where the problem lies and where the solution could come from with the Rosales departure. There’s a plethora of options, something the A’s are starting to take advantage of, at each position mentioned above. At second base you could have Eric Sogard and Alberto Callaspo, shortstop Jed Lowrie and Eric Sogard, and third base Josh Donaldson and Alberto Callaspo. Any way you look at it the A’s have a platoon or solid back up situation. However, Callaspo’s glove does not work well at second base and with his emergence as a good pinch hitter he could be used as a third base back up and an occasional pinch hitter. That leaves Eric Sogard without the platoon partner he desperately needs to succeed offensively. Where could that partner come from?
ESPN Los Angeles contributor Mark Saxon reports the Los Angeles Dodgers may choose to decline the option on former A’s sure handed second baseman Mark Ellis. Ellis’ age, offensive production, cost, and Dee Gordon waiting in the wings have caused some speculation that the Dodgers might decline Ellis’ option and let him go via free agency. The perennial gold glove candidate who is coming up on turning 36 might just be a cheap right handed bat at second base that comes with above average defense, something the A’s sorely missed without Rosales around.
With Grant Balfour, Chris Young, and potentially Bartolo Colon coming off the books the A’s, even after accounting for arbitration raises, will have money to spend in the free agent market. The A’s are clearly not in on the Robinson Cano sweepstakes, nor can they afford the likes of an Omar Infante, Ellis makes perfect sense as a cheap addition with a great glove and can contribute offensively when put in a situation where he can succeed (something Manager Bob Melvin excels at). Ellis’ option with the Dodgers stands at $5.75 million. Even if Ellis receives that in free agency the cost is worth the risk. The deal comes with minimal risk, especially considering the glove, and could turn into a great match with the potential to be a more productive platoon (Sogard and Ellis) than in 2013.
All of this depends on the Dodgers declining Ellis’ $5.75 million option and him signing with the A’s via free agency. Whether that happens or not obviously remains to be seen. With a lack of consistent production from the rest of the free agent second base class Ellis is a perfect for the A’s need at second. Outside of Ellis, there is Cano, a few well-traveled gloves, and a couple of injury prone candidates. While the A’s may choose to go the latter (cheaper) route Ellis is no doubt a candidate to make a return to Oakland.