For as much as pitchers receive credit for a strong outing, their relationship and comfort with the catcher can be key in their success.
The bond and trust between Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis is well-known, and the reigning NL Cy Young previously shared how valuable be believes Ellis is. Kershaw signed a record seven-year, $215 million deal prior to the 2014 season and him returning with the Dodgers in 2015 is a lock.
However, for Ellis there’s more uncertainty. The 33 year old battled multiple injuries this season that prevented him from finding any sort of rhythm at the plate. Ellis came alive in the postseason, hitting .538 (7-for-13) in four NLDS games, which Kershaw believes is more indicative of what the catcher is capable of, via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
You saw what he could do in this series once he’s right.”
Kershaw went on to praise Ellis for the work he puts into his craft and how it brings a sense of comfort for the Dodger ace:
Just the tireless work that he does, it’s so selfless. It’s invaluable to know that what he’s putting down, there’s so much thought, so much work behind it. It gives me confidence to throw it.”
Ellis and the Dodgers avoided arbitration after the 2013 season and now find themselves back in the same situation. While much has been made of Hanley Ramirez’s free agency and the options available to the Dodgers, Kershaw said losing Ellis would be a big loss:
I think we’d be losing a lot if we let him go. I know A.J. will land on his feet, but we need him here a lot.”
When Ellis was struggling through the season, he acknowledged his production would likely dictate whether or not he’s re-signed and added he hoped he’d established enough rapport to be brought back.
Along with Ellis, Drew Butera is also eligible for arbitration and Tim Federowicz will be eligible in 2016.