A.J. Ellis spent 2017 backing up J.T. Realmuto in Miami, but for the second straight season, he failed to provide much in the way of offense, after previously handling lefties well enough to garner consideration in NL-only leagues as a second catcher who simply didn't hurt owners while he was active. Throughout his career, Ellis' defense behind the plate and ability to handle pitching staffs solidified his place on a 25-man roster. He'll turn 37 in April, and it may be the end of the line for him as a player, as he's been a below-replacement-level player in two of his last four seasons. If he gets a look with another team in spring training, a roster spot is hardly guaranteed, and if he manages to stick until Opening Day, it will be as a lightly utilized backup, likely on a second-division squad lacking a younger major-league ready backup.
Ellis signed a minor-league contract with the Padres on Wednesday, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. With Austin Hedges locked in as the team's starter behind the dish, Ellis will compete with Rocky Gale and Raffy Lopez for the backup gig. While the 36-year-old is easily the most experienced catcher of the bunch, he's coming off a season during which he hit a lowly .210/.298/.371 in 51 games for the Marlins.
Ellis went 2-for-4 with a double, a two-run home run, three RBI and two runs during Wednesday's loss to Colorado. Ellis has played sparingly this season and owns a pedestrian .203/.290/.370 slash line for the campaign. His big outing Wednesday doesn't change his status as a desperation fantasy option in the majority of settings.
Ellis will start at catcher and bat second Sunday against the Reds, Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald reports. The Marlins have a vacancy in the two hole with Giancarlo Stanton receiving a rare day off, so Ellis will fill the void for what will likely be a one-time basis. Ellis has shown the ability to draw a walk throughout his career, but he won't be much of a run producer when he's in the lineup.
Ellis got the start behind the plate Sunday and went 2-for-4 with a double, a solo home run and a second run scored. Playing time has been hard to come by for the veteran backstop as he works behind J.T. Realmuto -- Ellis has just two homers and five RBI over 87 plate appearances on the season. Even if he does find his way into more action, his .656 OPS means he'll carry very limited fantasy appeal.
Ellis has only 13 hits and two RBI in 65 at-bats as the Marlins' backup catcher this season. The veteran backstop has started only 16 games this season with J.T. Realmuto healthy and playing well. Ellis has zero extra-base hits this season and is utilized primarily when Realmuto needs an off day. The 36-year-old is ineffective at the plate and sees too little playing time to warrant fantasy consideration.