LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Carlos Ruiz from Philadelphia in a trade of popular backup catchers Thursday, getting a player with a world of postseason experience.
The Phillies also sent $1 million to the Dodgers for A.J. Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named or cash.
The 37-year-old Ruiz was hitting .261 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 48 games, playing behind Cameron Rupp. Ruiz has done well lately, batting .340 (16 for 47) since the All-Star break.
“In terms of leadership ability, ability to call a game and run a pitching staff, Carlos rates extremely well in those things and has experience,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.
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“What he brings to our lineup in terms of left-handed pitching, we felt was something that we were focused on for ways to improve,” he said.
Ruiz’s role will be as a backup catcher for the Dodgers. He’ll arrive Friday, and manager Dave Roberts already said he’ll start in his first game against the Chicago Cubs.
“I know what he does,” said reliever J.P. Howell, formerly with Tampa Bay. “I lost a World Series to him. He’ll come over here and help us.”
Ruiz was an All-Star in 2012 and Phillies fans loved to call out his nickname — “Chooch” — when he delivered big hits. He got many of them for Philadelphia, batting .353 with two homers and five RBIs in 11 World Series games.
Overall, Ruiz played 46 games in the postseason with the Phillies, helping them win five NL East crowns.
“It certainly was helpful,” Friedman said.
Those titles came alongside former Philadelphia star Chase Utley, and this trade reunites them on the Dodgers.
“Chooch, obviously Chase has played with him a long time,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “Great guy. Great teammate. Plays with a lot of energy. Whenever he gets here, we’ll bring him in and embrace him and make him feel as comfortable as possible.”
The trade also leaves just aging slugger Ryan Howard in Philadelphia from the team that beat Tampa Bay to win the 2008 championship.
The Dodgers now have more former Phillies players from that 2008 team (Utley, Ruiz and Joe Blanton) than they have from the Dodgers team that lost to the Phillies in the playoffs in 2008 (Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier, who are both are on the disabled list). Another former Phillies star from that club, Jimmy Rollins, played for the Dodgers last year.
Ellis hit .194 with one homer and 13 RBIs this season as a backup to Yasmani Grandal.
The 35-year-old Ellis often caught Kershaw and was one of the Cy Young Award winner’s best friends. Ellis said he and ace cried together after learning about the trade.
“To know that, in all likelihood, I’ll never get to catch him again, is without a doubt the most devastating thing I’m feeling right now,” Ellis said.
Ellis was drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 and said he was proud to have spent his career with them.
“To have that gone now in the blink of an eye, without much time to feel finality to it, it rips your heart out,” he said.
Friedman said he wasn’t concerned that there would be a disruption of chemistry in the clubhouse as the Dodgers pursue their first World Series title since 1988.
“All of our interests are perfectly aligned in terms of doing everything we can to bring a world championship back to Los Angeles,” Friedman said.
Ellis did a lot for the Dodgers in community, and went on a hospital visit Tuesday. Kershaw recently said the clubhouse chemistry on the Dodgers was the best he’d seen on any of his teams.
Asked about if the move would affect the team mix, closer Kenley Jansen said: “The chemistry was great. That’s a tough question. All I can say is it’s a sad day today in the clubhouse, a guy like A.J. is leaving.”
Friedman said he did not consult any players before making the decision.
Like Ruiz, Ellis excelled in October and was a career .365 hitter in 17 postseason games.
Bergjans was 3-13 with a 4.98 ERA at Class A Rancho Cucamonga. The 23-year-old righty was an eighth-round draft pick in 2015 after playing for Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia.