Jeff Mathis has been a career backup catcher, known for his defense expertise. The 33-year-old hasn't appeared in more than 100 games in his career, and his career batting average is sitting at .197, but his defensive consistency has earned him a spot on an MLB roster for each of the 12 previous seasons. Mathis played in 41 games in 2016, starting 36 of those, slashing .238/.267/.333 in 132 plate appearances over that span. The defensive stalwart is a free agent this offseason and has attracted interest from teams as a backup catcher but is yet to sign. The Diamondbacks signed him over the offseason, but despite the change of scenery, Mathis has limited value as his best case scenario is maintaining his role as backup catcher.
Manager Terry Lovullo said that he expects Mathis to catch about 60 games in 2017, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. Mathis was signed to a two-year contract earlier in December, and although Chris Herrmann is expected to be the primary catcher, it seems like Mathis will still have a decently large role with his new club. However, it's likely more for his game-calling abilities rather than his bat, as his career batting average currently sits below the Mendoza Line.
Mathis agreed to a two-year, $4 million contract with the Diamondbacks on Friday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. After declining to tender Welington Castillo a contract, the Diamondbacks immediately brought in a replacement in the 33-year-old Mathis, although it's hard to imagine Mathis would inherit the primary role. That should go to Chris Herrmann, if healthy. Mathis has hit just .197/.254/.308 in parts of 12 major league seasons.
Mathis slugged a two-run home run in Wednesday's loss to the Cubs. It was the backup catcher's second blast of the season and goes along with an underwhelming .228/.253/.359 triple slash. Mathis has never been all that much of an offensive contributor but offers veteran leadership and strong defense behind the dish. he'll continue to spell J.T. Realmuto for a game or two per week.
Mathis went 3-for-4 with a two-RBI single, double and a run in Saturday's 11-0 victory over the Cardinals. The backup catcher put the finishing touches on the Marlins' 11-run barrage with a two-run single in the sixth that plated Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Mathis has now hit safely in the last six games he's registered an at-bat in, with five of those being starts. Thee 33-year-old is deployed sparingly in place of starter JT Realmuto and is capable of providing modest offense on occasion.
Mathis went 1-for-3 with a grand slam Tuesday at the Padres. Mathis' first homer of the year gave Marlins a five-run lead in the first inning, and provided enough run support for the team to pick up a road victory. The light-hitting, part-time catcher is only slashing .180/.226/.280 in 50 at-bats this season.