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Dodger Players and Coaches React to the A.J. Ellis Trade

Los Angeles Dodger players, coaches and front office executives react to the trade of longtime teammate, A.J. Ellis.

Baseball is a business, but that doesn't mean it's not emotional or personal at times.

Such is the case with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the team announced on Thursday that they had traded popular catcher A.J. Ellis to the Philadelphia Phillies for Carlos Ruiz.

Ellis was a fan favorite and spent the better part of nine seasons with the Dodgers. He is a voice of leadership in the locker room and a mentor to many. He was the personal catcher and best friend of three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 MVP Clayton Kershaw, and beloved by the front office.

"It was a tough decision on a personal level," Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said before the game. "I wrestled with this trade for days."

That's why the trade sent ripple effects through the Ravine on Thursday as players and coaches shed tears along with heartfelt goodbyes to their friend and teammate.

"It's a tough day for everyone. I'm a little shocked," Justin Turner told reporters from his locker. "On a personal level AJ is a great friend of mine both on the field and off the field. I've spent a lot of time with him and built a friendship with makes this a lot harder." 

Ellis agreed and went as far as anointing Turner the new leader of the Dodgers.

"Justin Turner is the new heart and soul of this team," said Ellis. "He's the new leader and has become the voice of this club, not just in the clubhouse but on the field."

Ellis was the longest tenured Dodger on the roster entering Thursday as he spent the better part of 13 seasons with the organization and nine with the Major League club. He said his tenure in particular was something he was very proud of.


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"To almost be a 10-year Dodger was something I was really proud of," a tearful Ellis said from the Dodgers dugout as he sat in front of reporters. "It's tough. This is really hard. Dodger Stadium is the greatest office in America and not to be able to call it home anymore is really tough."

Ellis was emotional in his exit interview with the media as he recanted the moment that he received a vague text message from the front office telling him to meet at the stadium hours before the game. 

"It's amazing how fast things can change. I was at the park shooting basketball with my kids and an hour later you have to pick things up and move your life," Ellis said. "It's hard for me, and even double as hard for my wife and kids. It's our family members who are left to pick up the pieces."

After calling his wife and agent, the next person he contacted was Kershaw. Luckily, his best friend was still at the stadium and the battery mates met in the dugout where emotions spilled over.

"I texted Clayton and had him meet me here in the dugout," Ellis recalled. "Not much was said. He was shocked. It hit us both simultaneously and we both cried. To know that I might not ever get to catch him again is the most devastating thing. It's very difficult. I'm almost out of tears now."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts seemed just as shocked as anyone and credited Ellis with making him a better manager and person in his inaugural season with Los Angeles.

"When a guy like A.J. Ellis gets traded it's impactful. AJ has a away about him that's infectious," Roberts said. "He's contributed a lot to the culture that's here and the winning environment. He helped me grow as a first year manager and I hope I helped him grow as a player. Being around him made me better. When he's gone, it's a big blow."

"I lost a good friend in the clubhouse," Adrian Gonzalez added. 

The blow will be most felt by Ellis and his family as he heads to Philadelphia on Friday to meet his new teammates. Leaving behind a team that is built for a deep postseason run without him. Nonetheless, Ellis will still be cheering on his teammates from afar in their quest for their first World Series title in 28 years.

"There's nothing like wearing a Dodger jersey. Nothing like it in sports," Ellis added. "I love the Dodgers. I love Los Angeles. Baseball is funny. I have nothing but respect."

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