36-Year-Old Catcher – Free Agent
2018 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
Ellis spent 2017 backing up J.T. Realmuto in Miami, but for the second straight season, he failed to provide much in the way of offense, after previously handling lefties well enough to garner conside...
A.J. Ellis Contract Information:
Signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Marlins in December of 2016.
Ellis went 2-for-4 with a double, a two-run home run, three RBI and two runs during Wednesday's loss to Colorado.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Ellis came over to Philadelphia in late August in the trade that sent Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. After a solid 2015, he hit just .216/.301/.290 with two homers in 196 plate appearances last season. His walk rate dipped below 10 percent after sitting around 15 percent in each of the two prior seasons. He did make more contact than in 2015, but was hurt by a low BABIP and a low HR/FB ratio. The drop in power output is a sign of further natural decline for Ellis, who will be 36 years old in April. He should still have a role as a reserve this season, now backing up J.T. Realmuto after inking a one-year deal with Miami, thanks mostly to his leadership in the clubhouse and solid defense behind the plate.
Ellis rebounded offensively in 2015, batting a solid .238/.355/.403 in 217 plate appearances. His line included seven home runs and Ellis fared well in the playoffs, making him a valuable big league backup, particularly once starter Yasmani Grandal was injured and ineffective for much of the second half. Ellis turns 35 in April, so while he has had some spurts of success, he isn't going to be a big league starter for a prolonged period at this stage of his career. He brings excellent plate discipline to the table (14.7% walk rate), making him a capable short-term fill-in in OBP leagues for stretches when he sees additional playing time. Ellis signed a $4.5 million deal to return as the backup catcher in 2016, but the presence of Austin Barnes makes for a crowded mix behind the dish in Los Angeles, so don't expect him to get more than one or two starts per week.
Ellis went down with a torn meniscus in his left knee a week into the season, and he lasted just eight games upon his return in mid-May before being forced back onto the disabled list with an ankle sprain. The catcher position was a black hole for Los Angeles in his absence, with the likes of Tim Federowicz, Miguel Olivo and Drew Butera all failing to provide even serviceable production, and while Ellis was able to stay healthy over the final three months of the season, he too gave the Dodgers very little offensive spark. In 197 second-half plate appearances, Ellis hit just .175/.287/.253 with three homers, though he did draw 25 walks against 29 strikeouts, resulting in a career-best 15.3% walk rate for the season. Ellis' value will take a hit in 2015, as Yasmani Grandal was acquired from the Padres in the Matt Kemp deal to take over the starting job behind the plate for the Dodgers.
Ellis took a bit of a step back in 2013, batting .238/.318/.364 and dropping 105 points of OPS from 2012. He displayed excellent plate discipline again with a 10.0 percent walk rate, and his 10 home runs were in line with expectations, but a drop in his BABIP from .333 to .275 led to the sub-.240 average. He's in line to be the team's starter in 2014, but Ellis will turn 33 soon after the season begins, so unless he picks things up in the first half, don't be surprised to see the Dodgers look to upgrade behind the plate.
Ellis had a solid first full season at the ripe old age of 31, showing more power than expected with 13 home runs and finishing with a .270/.373/.414 line in 133 games. He's always shown the ability to get on base, but after failing to hit a single home run from 2009-2010, the power was great to see. Ellis batted just .216 in September, but that could have been due to knee soreness that required minor surgery in October. Barring something unexpected, he should be the team's starter again in 2013, though perhaps with slightly fewer at-bats to keep him fresh.
After receiving his fourth cup of big league coffee in 2011, Ellis could be on the verge of at least semi-regular playing time in 2012. In 206 career at-bats, Ellis has a respectable .262/.360/.330 batting line. It also mirrors the skill set he showed on his way up the ladder: strong on-base ability but little power. Ellis homered twice in 31 September at-bats, but at a soon-to-be 31 years old, it's tough to see him developing double-digit home-run power. He'll split time with Matt Treanor and eventually, Tim Federowicz.
Ellis received his largest cup of coffee yet in 2010, batting .278/.363/.324 in 108 at-bats for the Dodgers. The 29-year-old has displayed zero power, even in the minor leagues, so his skill set remains that of a backup catcher. It's a role for which he'll compete coming spring training now that Rod Barajas is in line to serve as the team's starter.
Ellis received a second cup of coffee with the Dodgers in 2009, going 1-for-10 in late-season duty. Long term, the soon-to-be 29-year-old has a possible future as a backup, but the fact he was unable to hit a single home run in 278 Triple-A at-bats last season doesn't bode well for his chances at breaking camp as Russell Martin's backup. His best (and perhaps only) tool is his ability to get on base (.436 Triple-A OBP), and that doesn't do much for fantasy owners.
Ellis has put himself in position to be the Dodgers' No. 2 catcher in 2009 after hitting .321/.436/.456 in 274 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas. Ellis looks to be nothing more than a journeyman, but if the Dodgers are looking for a cheap backup who is actually a threat with the stick, Ellis may be the guy.