If you looked at the Miami Marlins' supposed "needs" this season, third base and catcher would come up most often. But Miami would probably tell you that they feel secure with Donovan Solano and Derek Dietrich at second base next season. But based on what Peter Gammons mentioned over at his GammonsDaily blog, the Fish may at least be interested in one free agent second baseman: former Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Mark Ellis.
The Marlins have a wealth of young pitchers, starting with Jose Fernandez and 2012 first pick Andrew Heaney, and are presently looking for third base, second base and catching help, as well as some veterans to fill some leadership voids. They have discussed former Dodger second baseman Mark Ellis, who has also been the radar of the Tigers.
This is not surprising at all. Ellis fits the mold of the Marlins' veteran stopgap moves, as he is at a career point similar to those of Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco. Like those two, his bat is on its way out, though it was never great to begin with. Ellis hit .270/.323/.351 (.300 wOBA) last season, and that batting line would fit right in with the rest of the Marlins' lineup. For a team looking for offense in particular rather than just position players, Ellis seems like the opposite of that kind of move.
But the Fish have always said that they are about pitching and defense, and Ellis brings the latter in spades. He is a wizard at second base, and he put up very positive numbers even last season at the ripe old age of 36. For his career, UZR has him as worth nine runs above average over a full season, while DRS has him at 14 runs better. He is neither of those at this point in his career, but he is much more likely to make up for his poor bat with his glove than Polanco was last season. While Polanco was coming off an injury-prone, older year, Ellis just finished a routine year for him. Of course, a routine year includes a month-long injury, but the Fish are getting a less beatdown product in Ellis.
A one-year contract would not be a bad move in any sense. As frustrating as it was to watch the zombies Pierre and Polanco meander through the field, they did nothing to block a significantly better player and only affected the Marlins for one season. Ellis would do the same, as his signing still does not prevent a Major League starter from playing. Solano is a decent utility infielder at best, and Dietrich could use more seasoning in the minors after being thrust too quickly into duty last season.
Fish Stripes will keep an eye on this and other Marlins rumors as the Hot Stove season continues!
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