Shockwaves reverberated throughout Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse on Thursday afternoon with news backup catcher A.J. Ellis was packaged in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Los Angeles received Carlos Ruiz and cash considerations in exchange for Ellis, Minor League pitcher Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later or cash. Normally, a trade involving a pair of veteran backup catchers wouldn’t cause much fanfare.
However, both Ellis and Ruiz are well regarded in their now former-clubhouses. Ellis was selected by the Dodgers in the 18th round of the 2003 Draft. “One of the things I’m most proud of is being a Dodger my entire career,” Ellis said from the home dugout at Dodger Stadium shortly after the trade was announced.
“I was drafted by these guys in ’03 and to have been the longest-tenured Dodger was something I was extremely proud of. To have that gone now in the blink of an eye, without much time to really feel a finality to it, it rips your heart out.”
Ellis was summoned to Dodger Stadium via text message, at which point he began to ponder various scenarios. By chance he met Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in the parking lot, though Roberts wasn’t aware of the circumstances at the time.
Ellis was later called into Roberts’ office and informed of the trade. “It’s tough sitting here looking at Dodger Stadium,” he said while fighting back tears.
“This is really, really hard. It’s the greatest office in America. To not be able to call it home anymore is really tough. It’s amazing how fast things can change.” After reaching out to his wife and agent, Ellis got in contact with teammate and close friend Clayton Kershaw.
“Not much was said, we just kind of sat together. To know that in almost all likelihood I’ll never get to catch him again, is without a doubt the most devastating thing that I’m feeling right now,” Ellis said.
“To hang out with each other for a few moments and have us both try to process what’s happening, was very difficult.” The 35-year-old catcher described Kershaw as “shocked” and “quiet.” Understandably emotional over being traded for the first time in his career, Ellis was sure to express his gratitude.
“I say words like sad and disappointed and devastated, but there are also a lot of other words. I’m grateful, thankful, blessed, honored and privileged,” Ellis said. “There’s nothing like wearing a Dodger jersey, there’s nothing like it in sports. I’ve never been anywhere else, but I don’t care.”
He also referred to Justin Turner as the Dodgers’ new leader. Turner, along with Kenley Jansen and others, voiced their sadness in seeing not only a teammate, but a close friend, walk out the door. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts both thanked Ellis for his contributions.
Friedman and Roberts also voiced confidence in Ruiz being capable of fitting into the clubhouse culture and environment much in the same way Ellis did. As for whether an eventual return to the Dodgers organization may be in the cards for Ellis, he wasn’t certain of what the future may hold.
“I can’t answer that one right now,” he said. “I love the Dodgers, I love Los Angeles. Baseball is funny and very circular.”