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Marlins fill their backup catcher void with A.J. Ellis

The veteran catcher should fit nicely with the Marlins.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Marlins signed 35-year-old catcher A.J. Ellis to a one-year, $2.5 million contract today, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Ellis spent his entire career with the Dodgers before being traded to the Phillies in August. Overall in 2016, Ellis slashed .216/.301/.298 with two home runs and a wRC+ of 65 in 64 games played. Ellis spent most of the season with the Dodgers as Yasmani Grandal’s backup and then also split time with the Phillies.

Most of Ellis’ offensive struggles came with the Dodgers, where he hit .194 in 161 plate appearances. However, in 35 plate appearances with the Phillies, Ellis had an OBP of .371.

With the Marlins, Ellis will fill the hole at backup catcher that was left by Jeff Mathis, who signed with the Diamondbacks in free agency. J.T. Realmuto should keep his starting spot, but Ellis will be able to give the Marlins at least 60 games behind the plate.

Ellis is also great at handling a pitching staff, which will be important with the young staff that the Marlins will have in 2017. Ellis was Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher in Los Angeles and did a little bit to help the lefty rise to dominance.

With Ellis taking over the backup catcher role, Tomas Telis will most likely have to wait at least another year before he becomes a part of the Marlins’ major league roster. Telis had a good season in triple-a in 2016, hitting .310, but he may not be ready for the majors just yet.