Fan favorite A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration by agreeing on a one-year contract worth $3.55 million plus incentives on Sunday. He will receive $50,000 each 110 and 115 games started and another $50,000 for reaching 450 plate appearances. Ellis submitted a salary proposal of $4.6 million while the Dodgers offered $3.5 million. Although the catcher only received a little bit more than the Dodgers offered, it still is a big pay bump from his salary of $512,000 he earned last season.
The 32-year old backstop had a down year in 2013, and only hit .238/.318/.364 with 10 homeruns and 52 RBIs over 115 games. An oblique strain sidelined A.J. for part of the year, and injury and fatigue was most likely to blame for his decrease in productivity behind the plate following his breakout season in 2012 when he hit .270/.373/.414 with 13 homeruns and 52 RBIs in 133 games played. His walks, an almost trademark of his patience at the plate, also declined from 65 to 45 from 2012-2013.
The buddy and battery mate of ace Clayton Kershaw was almost assured a new contract after the Dodgers announced that A.J. would get his own bobblehead as part of the 2014 Dodgers promotional schedule. The first 50,000 fans in attendance on September 7th versus Arizona will receive the Ellis bobblehead, the first for the masked Dodger. I hope that A.J. is immortalized in bobblehead form wearing his catcher’s gear since we all enjoyed A.J. mowing down runners trying to steal second base last season.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 28, 2014
In fact, A.J.’s caught stealing percentage was an excellent 44.44% last season. He was second in the MLB in CS% just behind Ryan Hanigan of Cincinnati (45.46%) and ahead of veteran catcher Yadier Molina (43.48%). Even though Ellis struggled at the plate in 2013, his propensity to throw out would be base stealers was a valuable asset to the Dodgers.
Ellis turned on the afterburners in the 2013 postseason for the Dodgers as well. He hit .323 with four doubles, a triple, a homerun, and 3 RBIs. He also caught all 10 postseason games for the Dodgers in which they appeared.
Now entering his 11th year in the Dodgers organization, A.J. worked hard to break into the Majors and cemented his place as the Dodgers starting catcher in 2012. There’s no player more deserving to be honored with a bobblehead night than A.J. After meeting him in person, I can attest that he is just as kind as he seems.