A.J. Ellis praised by Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis throws to first base during Game 4 of the National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 7.
(Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

General Manager Farhan Zaidi wouldn’t say whether the Dodgers would tender A.J. Ellis a contract, but offered a glowing appraisal of the catcher Tuesday at baseball’s general managers’ meetings.

“He’s a leader on this team, he has relationships with the pitching staff and we’re very mindful of that,” Zaidi said.

Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations, has talked to Clayton Kershaw about Ellis, Zaidi said. Kershaw has championed the return of Ellis, who, if tendered a contract, would receive a raise from the $3.55 million he earned this year in the arbitration process. If Ellis isn’t tendered a contract, he would become a free agent.


“That’s been a part of our process, understanding the dynamics and the relationships and it’s clear he’s a big part of this team and a big part of the preparation and comfort level for the pitchers,” Zaidi said.

Ellis underwent a minor knee operation early in the season and finished the season batting .191 in 93 games.

“One of the things we want to do with the roster is not get overly concerned with what happened last year and look more at the entire body of work,” Zaidi said. “From that sense, recognize there are year-to-year performance fluctuations and really try to think less about what these guys did last year but what we think they’re going to do moving forward. We want to be measured in that approach and not be too concerned with what a guy’s stat line was last year.”

The top catcher on the free-agent market is former Dodger Russell Martin, who figures to land the kind of long-term deal the Dodgers might be unwilling to offer him.