The Phillies are interested in re-signing A.J. Ellis according to Jayson Stark of ESPN. Ellis was acquired by the Phillies from the Dodgers at the trade deadline, and the 35-year-old catcher has an interest in returning with the Phillies as well.
Ellis played just 11 games with the Phillies last season, but impressed in a small sample. Over 35 plate appearances, Ellis slashed .313/.371/.500 with a wRC+ of 134. Overall though, 2016 wasn’t a great showing for Ellis, who posted the second-worst WAR total of his career, finishing just barely below replacement level.
At this year’s trade deadline, Ellis was traded to the Phillies from the Dodgers in a somewhat shocking move. Considered Kershaw’s personal catcher, Ellis and the Dodgers’ ace were vocal in their displeasure of being separated.
"It's been a rough couple of days," said Kershaw. "Just a really abrupt ending. A.J. kind of described it as a car wreck. This might have been our last season together, but we've been saying that for four years and it keeps working out. We realize what a huge blessing it was to have that time. But you see each other every day all season and you take it for granted a little bit."
In exchange, the Dodgers received Carlos Ruiz in a swap of backup catchers. Since then, Ruiz has been traded to the Mariners in exchange for left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuño.
The Phillies currently have Jorge Alfaro on their catching depth chart. Alfaro, the number four prospect in the Phillies’ system, wrapped up his Arizona Fall League with underwhelming numbers. In his 17 plate appearances, the 23-year-old struck out eight times. He is still considered a top-100 prospect by most rankings, and will get a shot at cracking the major league roster for 2017.
The 28-year-old Rupp is coming off of an impressive 2016 campaign, slashing .252/.303/.447. By FanGraphs’ WAR, Rupp was the 18th-best catcher in all of baseball and hit at a league average rate by wRC+. In an age of suppressed offensive numbers from catchers, Rupp’s 2016 season has significant value. Finding a spot for Ellis to fit in might be tricky.