The Los Angeles Dodgers today dealt away one of the team's most popular clubhouse leaders, catcher A.J. Ellis, for another veteran catcher in Carlos Ruiz. In addition to the swap of catchers, the trade between the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies also included the Phillies sending "cash considerations" to Los Angeles in exchange for minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later, or cash considerations.
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.
The trade immediately produces a litany of questions for a club that has been on a roll of late. Ellis' presence on the team provided huge chemistry benefits for a club that has been plagued by injuries and short on manpower. More importantly, he is ace Clayton Kershaw's most trusted catcher.
Although Ellis has struggled from the plate lately, his value in other areas certainly seemed to offset his cold bat. Moreover, Ellis always picked up his offense in the playoffs, as seen by his .365 average (19-for-52) in 17 postseason games.
Ruiz, 37, has the same glowing reputation and respect in the Phillies clubhouse that Ellis enjoyed in Los Angeles. By all accounts he is a quality person, who presumably will be a serviceable upgrade at the plate over Ellis.
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 upgrade he provides at the plate is not necessarily massive in scope, as nobody will mistake Ruiz's bat at this stage of his career for that of Mike Piazza.
As such, the team could be playing with fire by messing up not only Kershaw's security blanket, but also the spirit of the locker room as a whole.
Considering that the justification for sending Yasiel Puig down to the minors was to supposedly improve team chemistry (his replacement, Josh Reddick, has been mediocre at the plate), this move certainly undercuts any benefits the Puig demotion provided.
Ruiz has been a Phillies’ fixture behind the plate, 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.
The 2012 All-Star owns the highest career fielding percentage among all qualifying catchers in Phillies’ franchise history (.994) and ranks fourth 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).
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.
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).
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services