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.
Mathis continues to compete with Chris Herrmann and Chris Iannetta for playing time this coming season, Adam Green of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports. The Diamondbacks remain undecided about how they will utilize their catchers this season, and manager Torey Lovullo hasn't offered much clarification. "I'm just going to be consistent what I've said all spring long," Lovullo said. "We're going to put the catchers in the best position to have success with the pitcher that evening to help us win the game." Mathis and Iannetta, both offseason signings, have split most time behind the plate this spring, while Herrmann has seen time in the outfield. With outfield injuries to Yasmany Tomas (oblique) and Socrates Brito (finger), it's probable that the Diamondbacks will carry all three to begin the year, with Herrmann seeing time in the outfield as well. It appears that, regardless of who wins the starting job, the catchers will split time throughout the season. With Opening Day rapidly approaching, Lovullo is expected to have an idea of who will start within the next week, according to David Lumia of Fox Sports Arizona. "On the last few days of spring training we don't want it to be a fire drill," the skipper said. "We want it to be laid out and these guys can let their minds relax a little and great ready for Opening Day."
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.