SAN DIEGO -- The Padres have hired longtime catcher A.J. Ellis as a special assistant to the club's baseball operations staff, bringing an end to a steady 11-year career for Ellis.
The 37-year-old backstop spent the bulk of that time with the Dodgers, where he developed a reputation for his positive influence on pitchers and his excellent on-base skills. He finished with a .239/.340/.352 career slash line and 44 homers.
Ellis is perhaps best known for his role as the preferred batterymate of Clayton Kershaw. In nine seasons together in Los Angeles, Ellis caught 829 of Kershaw's innings, more than double Yasmani Grandal, who ranks next on the list.
Ellis was traded to Philadelphia during the 2016 season, prompting emotional responses from both him and Kershaw. Ellis played the '17 season in Miami before joining the Padres in '18. Ellis hit an impressive .272/.378/.344 in 183 plate appearances last year, prompting some to assume he'd be a nice free-agent fit somewhere.
Instead, Ellis' new role in the organization could be an extension of his role last season. The Padres carried three catchers for much of the year, and Ellis' playing time was limited mostly to occasional pinch-hitting duties.
More important, in the Padres' eyes, was Ellis' work with the young pitchers and catchers in the clubhouse. Starting catcher Austin Hedges raved about Ellis' input during strategy sessions. Plus, the Padres have a deep contingent of catching prospects as well, including Francisco Mejía (Padres No. 3 prospect), Luis Campusano (No. 24), Austin Allen (No. 25) and Blake Hunt.
As things stand, Ellis' new role is not yet clearly defined, but suffice it to say the Padres are thrilled he's on board. During his career, Ellis was never much of a power threat, and most of his numbers won't turn heads. But as an unheralded 18th-rounder, who debuted at 27 then caught 620 games with a .340 OBP, it's a career that's certainly worth remembering.