The Phillies announced Tuesday that they’ve signed veteran catcher Jeff Mathis to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training. The Phils also confirmed previously reported non-roster invites for veterans Neftali Feliz, Brandon Kintzler, Bryan Mitchell, Ivan Nova, Hector Rondon, Michael Ynoa, Ronald Torreyes, Travis Jankowski and Matt Joyce. Mathis a client of Jet Sports Management, would earn $1.8MM if he makes the roster, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Mathis, 38 in March, just wrapped up a two-year stint with the Rangers. He didn’t hit well at all in Texas, but the Rangers surely weren’t expecting him to provide anything with the bat, either. Mathis hit .207/.274/.297 in the two prior seasons with the D-backs and was nonetheless signed to a two-year deal almost exclusively for his defensive prowess behind the dish.
Long considered one of the best all-around defensive catchers in the game, Mathis will head to Spring Training with the Phillies as the quintessential veteran mentor for the team’s younger players. It seems difficult to envision him cracking the Opening Day roster with J.T. Realmuto re-signed to a new five-year deal, Andrew Knapp the likely backup and a third catcher, Rafael Marchan, on the 40-man roster. But Mathis can work with Knapp and the 22-year-old Marchan on their defensive aptitude behind the plate and has no shortage of veteran insight to share with the pitching staff after spending the past 16 seasons in the Majors.
Mathis has appeared in 945 Major League games and tallied 3006 plate appearances between the Angels, Blue Jays, Marlins, D-backs and Rangers. He’s just a .194/.253/.300 hitter in that time, but at his peak he controlled the running game brilliantly and was among the league’s best both in terms of pitch framing and blocking balls in the dirt.
As one might expect for a player as he enters his late 30s, Mathis has seen his defensive ratings dip in recent years, but he made known back in September that he hoped to continue his playing career and the Phillies are giving him the opportunity to do so. Mathis can always head to Triple-A Lehigh Valley if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, and it’s common for veterans of this nature to have multiple out dates in non-guaranteed deals, allowing them to return to the market near the end of camp (and/or early in the regular season) if they haven’t been added to the Major League roster.
I don’t know how this guy made the major leagues, his only upside is being a nice guy
He technically is in the minors and pretty much has 0 chance of making the majors unless 2 catchers get injured.
There is a really great Foolish Baseball Baseball Bits video about this guy. For any Phillies fans or interested baseball fans in general this video is a must watch. It is super interesting as most all Baseball Bits videos are. It basically explains why Jeff Mathis is valued so much even though he is clearly terrible offensively. The best recent comparison I can think of to Mathis is maybe Mike Matheny. Here is the link to the YouTube video for anyone that wants to watch. I don’t think anyone would be disappointed after watching this video. It is very informative and even more entertaining:
This is seriously the best thing I’ve ever watched about baseball.
That is one great video. Thank you for recommending it.
And being the best framer in baseball history.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
The operative word here is being “framed”. Who ever came up with this statistic? Some lonely guy living in his mom’s basement? So not scientific. 2709 total ab in his career & .194 ba? When is electronic balls & strikes coming? An umpire who can be fooled by a catcher moving his mitt, doesn’t belong behind the dish. He has value, but more as a coach, not as a player.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
A ball or a strike is called when it comes across the plate, not when it lands in the catchers mitt. Framing is a bogus statistic & should be eliminated as such. Balls & strikes are called over the plate, not behind it!
How dare you bring this slanderous insult to a thread about our lord and savor, the almighty Jeff Mathis.
He’s a top tier pitch framer, game caller and fantastic overall defender.
This is one of those takes that makes you realise how little people understand about the game of baseball
He makes pitchers better. Simple.
All well and good but he is behind 3 catchers on the depth chart.
gotta wonder if its to menter the young guys at AAA. could have a full compliment of 40 man guys starting at AAA.
As a watcher of Baseball Bits and a Phillies fan I can approve
Yeah. I said the same thing. I love Baseball Bits and have watched every episode. I posted the YouTube link to the Baseball Bits Jeff Mathis video above.
Watch foolish baseball and you will understand this guy is a legend
He’s the definition of a baseball cult hero.
Yeah. I posted a link to the Jeff Mathis Foolish baseball video above for anyone that wants to watch it. Super entertaining.
PHILLIES ARE MY FAVORITE TEAM NOW!!!!
Can his Uncle Johnny sing the national anthem on opening day?
Chances Are that is unlikely to happen.
It’s Not For Me to Say that.
Nope, still Johnny Mathis.
I got Misty when heard that the Phillies signed such an awesome pitch framer like Mathis!
In all seriousness, I actually really like Jeff Mathis. He may be a meme, but he’s a terrific clubhouse guy, and he helps pitchers a ton. We can credit some of Lynn and Minor’s success to him the past couple of years. The Phillies are a better team because of this, and I hope that someday Mathis can come back to Texas and manage this team.
This is actually the pitching help that Phillie fans needed.
Ban this heretic
It’s like Charlie O’Brien’s baseball soul left his body in Montreal (2000) and then jumped into young Jeff Mathis’s 18 year old body in 2001.
Y’know….pretty standard issue Quantum Leap type of situation
Hello Dynamite Drop, nice to have you back.
Sorry dude, just HalfBaked McBride….
And so Dr. Becket finds himself leaping from life to life, framing pitches that once appeared out of the zone and hoping each time that his next roster spot will be the leap home.
So wait, Jeff Mathis is really Scott Bakula? I guess that helps explain “Major League:Back to the Minors”
He has been so bad his entire career that honestly I’m shocked he’s still playing. Like unworldly bad. Make a nice little chunk of change, $21 mil overall I think I saw. Shows you kids, go be a hard working catcher and work on your defense and you might earn yourself quite the career in the sport.
He hasn’t been bad his entire career, he has been a bad hitter his entire career. Don’t be shocked that there is both offense and defense in baseball.
Great guy to have in big league camp this spring. Can work with the Phils young pitchers and hopefully sticks around at Lehigh to work with Spencer Howard & Adonis Medina. Like this low profile acquisition.
The quintessential backup catcher/defensive replacement.
Effectively, this is adding an additional coach to Spring Training. Mathis has likely played his last MLB game. Maybe he stays in Lehigh Valley for the Summer to work with players as a precursor to seeking a job as a coach somewhere.
He’s due for a big season offensively.
somwhere, Mike Scioscia is doing a happy dance
I see zero chance that at 38 years old Mathis accepts an assignment to AAA. Injuries happen in the spring so he may be able to latch on elsewhere if it doesn’t work with the Phillies. I would have thought a return to Miami to mentor Alfaro would have made more sense but obviously that is not how it worked out
Bob Uecker at the plate, better defensively, and as pitch framer. Maybe, future bullpen Coach.