Dodgers shock their fans: They trade away A.J. Ellis

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“Everybody is in shock,” according to LAPX reporter Claudia Gestro. She was reacting to the news, just released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, that the team had traded away catcher A.J. Ellis for another catcher, Carlos Ruiz, of the Philadelphia Phillies. This will be the topic of conversation for at least a few days around the Dodgers clubhouse and the Dodgers Nation. The Dodgers also sent minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans to the Phillies and a player to be named later, or cash considerations.

Ellis has been a staple behind the plate at Dodger Stadium since 2012, four years after he broke into the major leagues. His batting average has never been great, it topped out at .278 in 2010, but his fielding percentage is an incredible .997.

A.J. Ellis during Spring Training
A.J. Ellis during Spring Training

This season Ellis’s BA is .194, and his fielding percentage is .998, but in the post season Ellis seems to light up. In 2013 his BA in the post-season was .316, in 2014 it was .538, but in 2015 it was just .250. Still, Ellis has been a steady leader in the clubhouse, especially during Spring Training.

Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweeted, “AJ Ellis met with Clayton Kershaw in the dugout. He said was ‘absolutely devastated’ to know he would never catch Kershaw again.”

Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick tweeted, “Ellis said Kershaw was ‘shocked. We both cried.’ ”

Fans might be — are most likely — wondering what the Dodgers’s management is thinking. Carlos Ruiz is a capable catcher, having played 11 seasons in the majors, but Ellis, who is two years younger than Ruiz, has been a solid presence on the team.

From the Dodgers’s press release:

“Ruiz, 37, has played in more than 1,000 games for the Phillies after being signed by the club as an amateur free agent in 1998. The native of Venezuela made his Philadelphia debut in 2006 and has been a Phillies’ fixture behind the plate ever since, hitting .266 with 68 home runs, 401 RBI and 213 doubles in 1,069 career games. Ruiz made nine career Opening Day starts for the Phillies (2008-12, 2014-16) and was a part of five National League East Division championships (2007-11), two National League pennants (2008-09), and one World Series Championship (2008).  In 11 career World Series games, Ruiz has a .353 (12-34) average with a .488 OBP, 1.194 OPS, 4 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI and 6 R in 43 plate appearances.

“This season, Ruiz is batting .261 with three homers and 12 RBI in 48 games, but has been hot of late, hitting .340 (16-for-47) since the All-Star break.

“The 2012 All-Star owns the highest career fielding percentage among all qualifying catchers in Phillies’ franchise history (.994) and ranks fourth in in games caught (1,029), trailing only Mike Lieberthal (1,139), Red Dooin (1,124) and Bob Boone (1,095). He is one of only two catchers in Major League history, along with Jason Varitek, to have caught four separate no-hitters (two by Roy Halladay, one by Cole Hamels and one combined).

Ellis-BP“He struck out only 456 times in 3,884 career plate appearances, giving him the fifth-best strikeout rate (8.52 PA/SO) among all active major league players over that span behind Albert Pujols (11.13), Yadier Molina (10.49), Jose Reyes (9.98) and Martin Prado (9.22).

“Ellis appeared in 544 games for the Dodgers from 2008-16, becoming a full-time player in 2012 and posting his best season that year, hitting .270 with 13 homers and 52 RBI. He hit .237 with 36 homers and 161 RBI in his Dodger career, which was highlighted by his .365 average (19-for-52) in 17 postseason games.

“Bergjans spent the year at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he was 3-13 with 4.98 ERA in 24 games (21 starts). Bergjans was originally selected by the Dodgers in the eighth round of the 2015 First-Year Player draft out of Haverford College (PA). ”

Tonight the Dodgers wrap up their three-game series with the San Francisco Giants. We will have a complete report after the game, with a video report from Claudia Gestro.

In Claudia’s first Dodgers report from Spring Training she spoke to A.J. Ellis about the new pitchers.

Photos by Claudia Gestro