The Phillies announced Wednesday that veteran catcher Jeff Mathis, who was in camp on a minor league contract, has requested and been granted his release by the club. He’s once again a free agent.
Mathis, 38 next week, went 6-for-29 with a homer and a pair of doubles with the Phillies this spring. His chances of making the roster seemed to improve when J.T. Realmuto sustained a small fracture in his thumb early in camp, but Realmuto has returned to the lineup and is now looking likelier to be ready for the opener. Mathis’ release only seems to add to that likelihood.
Now back on the market, Mathis will likely seek another opportunity from a club looking to add a glove-first backup behind the plate. Offense has never been Mathis’ calling card, but his bat bottomed out from 2019-20 with Texas, when he produced just a .159/.212/.252 batting line through 312 plate appearances. His work this spring was a bit more encouraging, however, and Mathis has long been regarded as one of the game’s premier defensive players at any position. Even if last year’s defensive ratings took a dip, another club in need of a lightly used backup could show interest in bringing him aboard for his defensive aptitude and the extensive knowledge he can share with the organization’s younger catchers and/or pitchers.