With Spring Training coming to the end and Opening Day right around the corner, the Braves are making a few moves to add pieces to their depth going into the season. One position that has certainly been discussed is the backup catcher position. Obviously, the Braves expect big things from Travis d’Arnaud after his great 2020 campaign. However, with the hot Atlanta summers, the Braves know they need a reliable number two option as well.
While Alex Jackson will get the nod to fill the role to start the season, the Braves felt it was necessary to add some experience to their depth today as they added another catcher to the organization.
The #Braves are signing veteran catcher Jeff Mathis to a minor league contract, a source tells The Athletic. Mathis, a 16-year veteran who turns 38 on Wednesday, is looking to transition into coaching.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) March 30, 2021
The Braves have signed veteran catcher Jeff Mathis to a minor league deal. The 16-year veteran will join his sixth franchise as a pro. Throughout his career, Mathis has been known much more for his defense than his offense, and for good reason. He is a .194/.253/.300 hitter over his career, good for a .553 OPS. He is one of only 13 players in MLB history with 3000 or more plate appearances to have a career OPS of .553 or lower.
Of course, the reason why Mathis has had such a long career is due to being an excellent defensive catcher. From framing to handling a staff, Mathis has shown the ability to do it all. His knowledge may be the most beneficial asset he can offer, and that is not meant to be humorous. With an interest in becoming a coach, I am sure Mathis and the Braves both look to benefit from his ability to work with Atlanta’s young arms and catchers.
Though the most likely outcome of this signing is that Mathis simply serves as depth this season, he is not a bad option to have as a third catcher if one of the Braves prospects at the position does not emerge as a sensible backup. Mathis is certainly more than capable of getting a few starts over short stints if needed. Similar to retaining Jason Kipnis on a minor league deal, the Braves seem intent on having veteran depth options to rely on in case injuries happen early in the season.