The Phillies have two advanced catching prospects in the minors, but when Matt Klentak traded Carlos Ruiz on Thursday, he insisted veteran catcher A.J. Ellis be included in the return.
"It was important as this team parts ways with Carlos, who has been such an important leader for so long, that we add a player with a tremendous reputation as a leader and worker," Klentak, the Phillies general manager, said. "We were adamant A.J. be in it."
Ellis, 35, had spent 13 years in the Dodgers organization. He told reporters in Los Angeles that the trade "rips your heart out." He said he cried with his teammate and friend Clayton Kershaw.
"It's a really sad day for me," Ellis told reporters.
Klentak said he spoke with Ellis on Thursday and called him a "true professional." He will join the team sometime this weekend in New York and become Cameron Rupp's backup.
In the meantime, according to a Yahoo! Sports report, Jorge Alfaro will be promoted Friday to the Phillies. But Alfaro's stay in the majors is likely to last one or two days until Ellis arrives.
The Phillies want both Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, two touted prospects, to have regular at-bats in the minors while Rupp continues to start in the majors.
"There is a reasonably good chance one of our young catching prospects will be in the big leagues before the season is over," Klentak said. "Both our double A and triple A teams are in pennant races and we believe it's important for them to continue to get meaningful at-bats and play in meaningful games."
In essence, Ellis will be a stopgap. He is a free agent at the end of the season. Ellis is hitting .194 with a .537 OPS in 53 games. He is known as a clubhouse leader and regarded by some as a future manager.