The Dodgers declined Ellis's $5.75 million option earlier in the offseason, but would like to bring him back on a cheaper deal. He was the team's primary starter at second base each of the past two seasons, hitting a combined .264/.328/.357 between 2012-13. The 36-year-old made a little under $8 million over that span. Los Angeles appears willing to move on without him after signing Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a $28 million deal in October. However, on a cheaper deal the Dodgers wouldn't mind having Ellis as insurance if Guerrero does not pan out or struggles initially.
The Royals, meanwhile, chose to non-tender second baseman Chris Getz rather than pay him over $1 million as he is eligible for arbitration. That leaves Kansas City with Emilio Bonifacio and Johnny Giavotella. Bonifacio was acquired for cash from the Blue Jays in August after heavy struggles in Toronto. He hit better after the deal, but the speedster is best suited as a utility player who can help out at every position to give other players a day off. Giavotella has hit well in the minors, but over 113 major league games has a 613 OPS. He could turn into a good player, but for a competing team like the Royals, he isn't a viable option to start everyday. Ellis could come in and provide consistency at second base while bringing veteran leadership to the table.
Rosenthal sees the Rays as an unlikely destination for Ellis. Ben Zobrist is locked in as the team's second baseman and does not appear to be moving elsewhere anytime soon. The big need for the Rays is a first baseman, where Sean Rodriguez is currently penciled in. However, if Ellis were cheap enough it's possible to see him come in and take over a utility role, playing all around the infield. He has played a handful of games at the other three infield positions, but has spent the overwhelming part of his career at second. For now, however, he would be a luxury for a Rays team that, like the Royals, will be fighting for a playoff spot in the AL.
Teams like to have a veteran presence on their teams. With 11 big league seasons under his belt, Ellis could fit that role to perfection. Three teams are already interested and more could come as the offseason rolls on.