The Jays have signed Jeff Mathis, of all people, to a two-year contract extension for $3-million, with a $1.5-million option for 2015… for some reason, continuing the club’s policy of not giving a shit about $3-million expenditures on guys who offer questionable value (hello, Dustin McGowan!).
But… OK, it’s easy– really, seriously, ridiculously fucking easy– to scoff at the news, which comes via a team release, though there are plausible rationales for it. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’m no Mathis fan– though I’ll be the first to admit that he’s actually hit better than I anticipated, sitting on a *COUGH* stellar *COUGH* .286 wOBA– but he’s a reasonably alright catch-and-throw backup at a position that’s probably going to require some stability as the question of JP Arencibia or Travis d’Arnaud is sorted out in the coming months.
On the surface it would be easy to quickly conclude that the writing is on the wall for JP Arencibia, who is by far the less valuable of the two young, controllable catchers the club has, but that’s not necessarily so. Sportsnet’s Barry Davis just tweeted, for example, that he sees Travis d’Arnaud being in Triple-A for the 2013 season, and while that’s a dispiriting thought, it’s entirely possible that he starts there. After all, d’Arnaud’s season was derailed by a knee injury and the club may want to ease him back behind the plate in the minors before asking him to make the step up to the big leagues.
Certainly, though, the possibility exists that Arencibia will be moved this off-season by the pitching-thin Jays, as has long been speculated, in which case having a holdover in Mathis– who by all accounts is liked and respected by his teammates, and has worked well with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy to try and improve at the plate– will help ease the transition for the pitching staff. His presence in that capacity may be ever more important should Arencibia be dealt mid-season.
Mathis would probably even still be useful on the bench in a scenario wherein the Jays held both catchers– for example, keeping Arencibia and his .343 career wOBA against lefties as a platoon mate at DH for Adam Lind.
So, we’re not talking about an offensive sum of money, not a term of contract that’s likely to cover any kind of decline phase (if that’s even possible), and there are a couple reasons why he’s a fine bit player to keep around. Jesus, Parkes doesn’t even hate it.
Still… Jeff Mathis?
(Oh, and also, according to a tweet from Gregor Chisholm, among others, Yorvit Torrealba, as well– on a minor league deal, that is. He’ll report to New Hampshire. Feel free to start refreshing Craigslist to see if Yan Gomes’ catching gear shows up any time now.)
Image via Tom Szczerbowski/Getty.