We’re now less than a week from the postseason eligibility deadline, meaning contenders have precious little time to do their last-minute shopping. The Dodgers checked an item off their list on Thursday evening, agreeing to a trade that netted them catcher Carlos Ruiz from the Phillies in exchange for backstop A.J. Ellis, pitcher Tommy Bergjans, and a player to be named later.
Here’s how the move impacts both teams.
How it affects the Dodgers
The clean answer is the trade gives the Dodgers a better, deeper roster. Ruiz has outhit Ellis this season — .261/.368/.352 versus .194/.285/.252 — and boasts an impressive reputation as a staff-handler. Advanced defensive metrics aren’t as kind toward Ruiz — Ellis is viewed as possessing the superior mitt, particularly as it pertains to receiving — but again, the offensive disparity is pretty wide. There’s also the matter of the potential long-term benefit. Ruiz has a club option for $4.5 million, making him a plausible backup to Yasmani Grandal for next season (should the Dodgers deem Austin Barnes unfit for the role, that is). Ellis, on the other hand, is set to hit the open market.
The messy answer is that while Ruiz is the better player … well, not to go all “The Love Song of A.J. Ellis” on you, but his teammates — particularly his good pal Clayton Kershaw — seem shaken:
Ellis described Kershaw as “shocked” by the trade. The two men wept together, he said.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) August 25, 2016
Basically: the Dodgers front office is betting on Ruiz’s superior play winning the clubhouse over in due time (or, at least until human voices wake them, and they drown … whichever). Is that a worthwhile gamble when it’s made about a backup? It depends on your perspective, and how you weigh clubhouse chemistry. If nothing else, the situation bears watching as a case study on the pros and cons of emotionally detached management.
How it affects the Phillies
There’s a human element to the Phillies’ side, too — or so you’d like to think that part of the motivation here was allowing Ruiz, a franchise mainstay, to go play for a contender. In all likelihood, the Phillies were probably more motivated by saving some money and getting a low-level prospect or two in return.
With Ellis around to play out the string as Cameron Rupp‘s backup, the proverbial key to the deal is Bergjans. Good story aside — he was a senior signing — he hasn’t taken well to High-A, where he’s posted an ERA near 5.00 across 24 appearances. The scouting reports aren’t much kinder, either. Christopher Crawford notes that Bergjans sits 88-to-92 with his fastball, and complements it with a solid curveball and okay changeup. Maybe the Phillies see reason for greater optimism, but they’d likely be pleased if Bergjans turn into a swingman.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Veteran catcher trade alert: Dodgers deal A.J. Ellis to Phillies for Carlos Ruiz