The Marlins have agreed to a one-year, $2.5MM deal with veteran backstop A.J. Ellis, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald had just reported that the Marlins appeared to have a “good shot” at landing Ellis to be the new backup catcher in Miami, where he’ll be reunited with former manager Don Mattingly and former teammate Dee Gordon. Ellis is represented by ACES.
Ellis, 35, will serve as the primary backup to young J.T. Realmuto, who looks to be emerging as one of the better young catchers in the league. Miami has been in the market for a new reserve backstop since veteran Jeff Mathis, who has served as the backup in Miami for the past four seasons, inked a deal with the Diamondbacks last week.
Ellis posted a .216/.301/.298 line in 196 plate appearances split between the Dodgers and Phillies last season, although, of course, his calling card has always been his handling of pitchers, not his hitting. Clayton Kershaw famously loved working with Ellis, who caught Kershaw for 829 innings over the course of Ellis’ tenure with the Dodgers, which spanned parts of nine seasons. The hope in Miami, perhaps, is that Ellis can have a positive influence on Realmuto and the Marlins’ young staff.