For a second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Dodgers and A.J. Ellis managed to avoid arbitration. After tendering the 33-year-old catcher in December, the Dodgers and Ellis agreed to a one-year, $4.25 million contract on Tuesday.
After word of the agreement spread, Ellis thanked fans on Twitter for their support and shared his gratitude for remaining with the Dodgers:
Thanks @Dodgers fans for the outpouring of positive responses to today's news. Honored and excited to be a part of this team.
— AJ Ellis (@AJEllis17) January 14, 2015
Given that Ellis was coming off his worst season in the Majors, coupled with the remade Dodgers’ front office, there was some speculation Ellis’ tenure in Los Angeles may have ended with the 2014 season.
However, while Ellis doesn’t grade particularly well in pitch framing and other advanced stats, his intangibles weren’t lost on Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Also working in Ellis’ favor was Clayton Kershaw publicly championing the catcher’s return on two separate occasions.
Some of Ellis’ struggles last season can be attributed to the two injuries he suffered — the first was a torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery, and the second an ankle sprain suffered during the celebration of Josh Beckett’s no-hitter. As a result, he managed to hit just .191/.323/.254 with three home runs and 25 RBIs in 93 games.
However, Ellis was a different batter in the postseason and he led all Dodger position players in batting average (.538), on-base percentage (.647) and slugging percentage (.846).
Although Ellis signed with the Dodgers, his role next season will be different than what’s been the status quo. Zaidi is a proponent of using multiple catchers and with Yasmani Grandal now in the mix, that’s the direction the Dodgers appear headed in. That being said, manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday he isn’t yet sure how the situation will unfold.