When looking at Clayton Kershaw, who has won 21 games and leads the Majors in multiple stats, and A.J. Ellis, who has struggled for much of the year, you’d come to expect the catcher championing that the pitcher return the following season.
The Dodgers and Ellis avoided arbitration last winter when they came to terms on a one-year, $3.55 million contract. Ellis is eligible for arbitration at the conclusion of the 2014 season and Kershaw let it be known he wants the catcher to return in 2015, according to AM 570’s David Vassegh:
Kershaw told me he wants AJ Ellis back as his catcher in '15. "If he's not back here I don't know what I'll do. He better be back"
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) September 26, 2014
Ellis acknowledged back in May his play would dictate whether he was brought back by the team next season, but hoped he’d built enough of a rapport to land a new contract. The season has been a trying one for the 33 year old, who underwent surgery to repair his meniscus in early April.
Shortly after returning from surgery, Ellis then suffered a sprained ankle during the celebration of Josh Beckett’s no-hitter and missed more time in May and June. Ellis has largely been ineffective with a bat in his hands, but has shown the ability to get on base via walks.
A career .242 hitter, Ellis is batting just .191 this season, however he’s hitting .235 in the last 10 games. Ellis’ caught stealing rate is down nearly 20 percent from last season, but he found a way to be productive while on the disabled list.
The veteran catcher approached Beckett with the proposal he rely on his breaking ball more often, which the pitcher agreed to and had success until his season was derailed by injury. Ellis assumed full-time catching duties with the Dodgers in 2012 and this marks the first season he’ll play under 100 games since that point.