A.J. Ellis, Clayton Kershaw

For much of the last three seasons, A.J. Ellis has handled the catching duties for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Considering that’s entailed Ellis being behind the plate for at least 93 games each season since 2012, he’s formed a strong bond with the starting rotation, particularly Clayton Kershaw.

Ellis played last season on a one-year deal, was limited due to two injuries and was at risk of becoming a free agent if the Dodgers opted to non-tender him. Shortly after the Dodgers were eliminated from postseason play, Kershaw let it be known his desire was for the Dodgers to re-sign his battery mate, which was completed Tuesday when the Dodgers and Ellis agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

With Ellis re-signed and Yasmani Grandal in the picture, the Dodgers figure to deploy a platoon behind the plate next season — something general manager Farhan Zaidi believes in utilizing. While it’s been widely presumed Ellis would primarily serve as the catcher for Kershaw, that in fact may not be a given.

Manager Don Mattingly spoke to a group of local reporters on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium and seemingly shot down the idea that Ellis would be Kershaw’s personal catcher, according to Dodger Talk co-host David Vassegh:

Aside from being seven years younger than Ellis, Grandal grades out more favorably in terms of pitch framing, which Kershaw and the entire Dodgers pitching staff would benefit from. However, the relationship between a pitcher and catcher isn’t something to be glossed over.

Not one to tip his hand, Mattingly’s comments may be another case of him being coy with the media and leaving open the possibility for games in which Grandal will catch Kershaw.

About The Author

Matt is a journalist from Whittier, California. A Cal State Long Beach graduate, Matthew occasionally contributes to Lakers Nation, and previously served as the lead editor and digital strategist at Dodgers Nation, and the co-editor and lead writer at Reign of Troy, where he covered USC Football. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mmoreno1015

4 Responses

  1. Tmax

    So they are going to pay Ellis to back up the pitch framer and teach him how to call a game? Kershaw has said he loves the work AJ Ellis does and the way he calls the game. It is hard for me to believe that Mattingly will get into it with his pitchers about Ellis. On the other hand as the Front Office made a bad trade and got the pitch framer and a bag of beans for Kemp maybe they are telling him that Grandal has to play or they look worse than they do already.

    Reply
    • Gordon Francisco

      Regardless of what anyone says, someone of the Dodgers believes in designated catchers for super-star pitchers, they have just signed him for $4M+ for one year…Otherwise, let Magic and his cronies that I’ll catch Kershaw for one year at 1/2 the price…

      Reply
      • Tmax

        Yep I agree but can you frame a pitch and hit the curve?

  2. KillaB

    If Kershaw wants Ass Juice(AJ) then let him have it. Who cares. Can’t wait till opening day.

    Reply

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