With the Phillies season over, we will be looking at each position group and analyzing whether we believe they will be returning to the Phillies in 2017 or not. Our first edition looked at the infield. Now we are focusing on the catchers.
Jorge Alfaro: Alfaro was first acquired by Philadelphia in the Cole Hamels deal that sent the pitcher to the Texas Rangers. He then was let go, re-signed by Texas, became a free agent, and re-signed with Philly for the 2016 season. He hopes for some stability and to stay here a bit longer and his play may have just earned him that. 2016 was his first season in the bigs, although not a lot of opportunities, Alfaro looked good behind the plate, but struggled offensively going 2-16. Alfaro looked good in the minor leagues in 2016 and at just 23 years old, looks to compete for the back-up catcher position in spring training next year. I believe Alfaro is back for 2017.
Cameron Rupp: Rupp has been slowly working his way into the starting catcher’s position and finally took it over during this season. It truly became his, without a doubt, when the Phillies traded Carlos Ruiz to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rupp was a steal for the Phillies, who paid him $518,000 this season, but they may want to think about signing him more long-term this off-season. Rupp hit .252 this season, smacked 16 home runs, and had a .303 on base percentage, and at age 28, looks to have another three to four solid years of productivity left in him. Rupp will be back in 2017 and should be signed on for a few more years as well.
A.J. Ellis: Ellis was acquired in that aforementioned Ruiz trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The veteran signed a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, to avoid arbitration, for the 2016 season. At age 35, I don’t think the Phillies will be interested in keeping Ellis, although his production as a Phillie was commendable. He was 10-32 hitting with one home run, and nine RBIs in just 11 games. This one is a tough decision. It will come down to either Alfaro or Ellis and it may be a competition in spring training, but I believe the Phillies will side with the youth and stick with Alfaro over Ellis.