They say you can’t really miss someone if they don’t go away.
Dodger fans will certainly miss catcher A.J. Ellis after the Los Angeles Dodgers traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday in a swap of backup catchers.
In exchange for Ellis, the Dodgers acquire veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz as they make the push for their fourth consecutive National League West Division title and perhaps their first World Series birth since 1988.
Ruiz is a native of Venezuela and has played his entire career with Philadelphia after he made his debut with the team in 2006. He won five NL East Division championships with the Phillies, two NL Pennants, and one World Series Championship in 2008.
Ruiz, 36, joins fellow Dodger teammates Chase Utley and Joe Blanton as three of the active eight players on in the league to play on the Philadelphia World Series Title team.
Ruiz is batting .261 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 48 games this season, but he’s been hot since the All-Star Break smacking .340 in 47 plate appearances.
Unfortunately for Ruiz, he was relegated to a backup role behind Cameron Rupp this season, and will keep the same position behind Yasmani Grandal despite the fact that Ruiz owns the second best WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of any catcher in Phillies history with 21.7.
Acquiring Ruiz is a modest improvement at the backup catcher position for the Dodgers, especially against left-handed hitters. However, the loss of Ellis will be felt greater than just the occasional day behind the plate.
Ellis,35, was one of the most popular players on the team, and was beloved by ace Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw and Ellis have their lockers located next to each other in the Dodger clubhouse and are likely each other’s best friends on the team.
According to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times, Ellis said that Kershaw was “shocked” when he told him and that the two men shared a good cry together. Not being able to catch Kershaw again was what Ellis called “the most devastating thing.”
“It’s a really sad day for me,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Rips your heart out. I’m almost out of tears now.”
The eight-year veteran of the Dodgers was batting .194 and is a free agent at the end of the season and it was unlikely the team was going to re-sign him as they were grooming minor league catcher Austin Barnes for the backup role. It’s possible the Dodgers pick up the final option on Ruiz’s contract if he performs well down the stretch, but he can also be a free agent at the end of the season.
In addition to Ellis, the Dodgers sent Class-A Rancho Cucamonga pitcher, Tommy Bergjans, to the Phillies in addition to a player to be named later. Philadelphia send cash to the Dodgers to cover the difference in the two catchers’ contracts.