Jeff Mathis

Jeffrey Stephen Mathis (born March 31, 1983) is an American professional baseball catcher who is a free agent. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.

Jeff Mathis
Mathis with the Texas Rangers in 2019
Free agent
Born: (1983-03-31) March 31, 1983
Marianna, Florida
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
MLB debut
August 12, 2005, for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
MLB statistics
(through 2020 season)
Batting average.194
Home runs53
Runs batted in286
Career highlights and awards
  • Fielding Bible Award (2018)

Early life and education

Mathis was born and raised in Marianna, Florida,[1] the son of Danny and Bunnee Mathis.[2] He has one brother, Jake Mathis, who played in the minor leagues.

At Marianna High School, Mathis played both football and baseball, winning four district titles and a regional title. He also appeared in the 1999 state title game in baseball,[3] along with the state championship game in football in 2000.[1]

Professional career

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Mathis was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim out of high school in 2001, which he accepted in lieu of attending Florida State University.[1] He quickly moved up the ranks, and by 2005, he was with the Salt Lake Bees at the Triple-A level. In 2005, he had a .276 batting average with 21 home runs across 111 games.[4] Noted for his defensive skills, he also earned the Angels' minor league Defensive Player of the Year award.[5]

Following the 2005 season, the Angels declined to pursue the return of their free agent starting catcher, Bengie Molina, allowing Mathis to take Molina's spot.[6]

Major leagues

Mathis playing for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2011

After a solid 2006 spring training, Mathis was expected to see substantial playing time at catcher, sharing the position with José Molina.[6] However, once the regular season began, he struggled greatly on both defense and offense. The Angels demoted him back to the minor leagues about one month into the season.[7] Mathis was replaced on the Angels roster by catcher Mike Napoli, who later became a very offensive-minded catcher that transitioned to being a first baseman and designated hitter for his offensive prowess.[8] He was later recalled back to the majors on September 1.[9] Overall in 2006 he played 23 games, having a .145 batting average and collecting 8 hits with 2 doubles and 2 home runs.[10]

Mathis entered the 2007 season fighting for the two catcher positions with Mike Napoli and José Molina.[11] He would end up being sent back to the minors with the Salt Lake Bees.[12] In the beginning of July, Napoli sustained a high ankle sprain, making the Angels recall Mathis to the majors.[13] He made his first season start on July 4 against the Texas Rangers.[14] He went 0 for 2, ground and flying out in a 2–4 loss.[15] On July 21, Molina was traded to the New York Yankees, making Napoli and Mathis hold the two catcher positions for the rest of the season. The trade also indicated the Angels’ confidence in Mathis.[16] Overall in 2007, Mathis played in 59 games, accumulating 36 hits, with 12 doubles and 4 home runs while accruing a .211 batting average.[10]

On July 23, 2008, Mathis had 4 hits and 6 RBI (the highest in a single game for both categories that season) in a 11–14 win against the Cleveland Indians. Mathis noted that his team's pitcher, John Lackey, "obviously didn't have his best stuff today, but he kept battling through it... and luckily we were able to put some runs on the board for him."[17] Overall in 2008, Mathis played in 94 games, the most in a single season. However, he had a batting average of .194, below the Mendoza Line.[10]

In game 3 of the 2009 American League Championship Series, Mathis hit an 11th-inning walk-off RBI double, defeating the New York Yankees 5–4.[18] In spite of his poor regular season stats (.211 batting average), he used his strong playoff offensive performance and excellent defensive skill to bolster his case for a raise to $1.3 million, beating the Angels management in arbitration.[19] The arbitration hearing was also something of a watershed in the amount of consideration paid to Mathis' defensive statistics. The LA Times highlighted the stark comparisons with competing catcher Mike Napoli: "in 657 innings with the agile Mathis behind the plate, Angels pitchers had a 3.99 earned-run average; they had a 4.86 ERA in 758 innings with Napoli catching. Mathis also caught 17 of 69 attempted base-stealers for a 24.6% success rate; Napoli, who will make $3.6 million in 2010 but is coming off two 20-homer seasons, caught 13 of 87 attempted base-stealers for a 14.9% success rate".[19] Mathis had been among the AL leaders in pitchers' earned run averages while behind the plate.[20]

In 2010, Mathis was ranked by Beyond the Box Score as one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball.[21] He also matched his career-worst batting average of .194, while posting a sub-.500 OPS in over 200 at bats.

Toronto Blue Jays

On December 3, 2011, following the acquisition of Chris Iannetta, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Brad Mills.[22]

Nine days later, Mathis signed a contract with the Blue Jays to avoid arbitration. He signed a one-year deal and was guaranteed to earn $1.5 million.[23] Mathis made his first career pitching appearance in a game against the Texas Rangers on May 25. Pitching in the 8th inning, Mathis gave up a hit and walked a batter, but ended the inning without surrendering a run. He became the sixth position player for the Blue Jays to pitch in a game, and the first since Mike McCoy on June 11, 2011.[24] He made a second pitching appearance exactly two months later, mopping up in a 16-0 loss against Oakland. In that game, Mathis gave up 3 hits and 2 runs (both earned) in 1 inning of work.

On August 14, 2012, Mathis was signed to a two-year contract extension worth $3 million. It included a 2015 club option worth $1.5 million. Mathis was hitting .215 with six home runs over 147 plate appearances at the time of extension.[25]

Miami Marlins

Mathis with the Miami Marlins in 2015.

On November 19, 2012, Mathis was traded to the Miami Marlins along with Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Álvarez, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani, and Justin Nicolino, in exchange for Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, José Reyes, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio.[26] Mathis was expected to serve as the back-up to Rob Brantly.

In his first spring training game with the Marlins on February 23, 2013, Mathis broke his collarbone on a foul tip hit by Matt Holliday. He was the only catcher with major-league experience besides Brantly, and was expected to miss 6 weeks.[27] Mathis made his season debut on May 16, going 0–4 with 2 strikeouts. On June 30, he hit a walk-off grand slam against Tyson Ross of the San Diego Padres to give Miami the win, 6–2. On November 1, 2014, the Marlins exercised their $1.5 million 2015 option on Mathis.[28]

On December 18, 2015, Mathis re-signed with the Marlins on a 1-year deal worth $1.5 million.[29] He hit his third career grand slam (first since 2013) in a June 14, 2016 game against the San Diego Padres.[30]

Arizona Diamondbacks

Mathis signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks on December 5, 2016.[31] During the 2017 season, he appeared in 60 games with the Diamondbacks, batting .215 with two home runs and 11 RBIs. He hit .200 with 1 home run and 20 RBI in 2018.

Texas Rangers

On November 15, 2018, Mathis signed a two-year deal, with the Texas Rangers.[32] In 2019, Mathis hit .158/.209/.224/.433 with 2 home runs and 12 RBI over 86 games. On defense, he helped Lance Lynn and Mike Minor finish in the top 10 in AL Cy Young Award voting.[33][34] In 24 games in 2020 for Texas, Mathis slashed .161/.221/.355 with 3 home runs and 9 RBI over 62 at-bats.[35]

Philadelphia Phillies

On February 16, 2021, Mathis signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies organization that included an invitation to spring training.[36] On March 24, 2021, Mathis was released from his contract with the Phillies after ten spring training games.[37]

Atlanta Braves

On March 30, 2021, Mathis signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves organization.[38] On May 2, 2021, Mathis was selected to the active roster after starter Travis d'Arnaud and backup Alex Jackson were placed on the injured list.[39] After going hitless in 9 at-bats, Mathis was designated for assignment on May 19 following the acquisition of Kevan Smith.[40] He was outrighted to the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers the next day.[41] He became a free agent on November 7, 2021.

Player profile

After leaving the Angels, Mathis became a heavily defensive catcher who excels in pitch framing and catching base stealers. Because of these skills, he was a preferred catcher to pitchers such as Jose Fernandez and Zack Greinke, despite being among the league worst in many batting statistics.[34]

Personal life

Mathis and his wife Jenna have two daughters.[42]


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  2. Riley, Sid (March 13, 2014). "Jeff Mathis Starts 9th Year As A Major League Catcher". Jackson County Times. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  3. Rosa, Rolando (February 13, 2015). "Major leaguers Mathis, Mader share hometown pride". Dothan Eagle. Archived from the original on January 24, 2021. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  4. "Jeff Mathis Minor Stats". Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  5. Balderas, Al (September 29, 2006). "Angels look like playoff contender". Orange County Register. Archived from the original on January 31, 2021. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  6. Digiovanna, Mike (February 22, 2006). "It's Tough for Mathis to Mask His Excitement". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 24, 2021. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  7. Digiovanna, Mike (September 2, 2006). "Time Will Tell if Mathis Is Back on Fast Track". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  8. Jaffe, Jay (November 25, 2013). "What is he really worth?: Mike Napoli". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  9. "Angels recall Erstad from DL". Orange County Register. September 1, 2006. Archived from the original on February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  10. "Jeff Mathis Stats". Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  11. "A Halo holding pattern". Los Angeles Daily News. February 14, 2007. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  12. "Angels announce 2007 Opening Day roster". April 1, 2007. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  13. Digiovanna, Mike (July 3, 2007). "Napoli is put on the disabled list". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  14. "2007 Games Jeff Mathis Log". Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  15. "Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers July 4, 2007 Box Score". Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  16. Ben, Bolch (July 22, 2007). "Molina traded to Yankees for minor leaguer". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 23, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  17. "Mathis, Kotchman, Kendrick help Angels pad AL West lead". ESPN. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on January 27, 2021. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  18. Beacham, Greg (October 20, 2009). "Mathis' double gives Angels an 11-inning victory". The Ledger. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  19. Digiovanna, Mike (February 20, 2010). "Angels' Jeff Mathis wins arbitration hearing, and $1.3-million salary". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 27, 2021. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  20. Spencer, Lyle (February 20, 2010). "Mathis out to ride late-season success".
  21. Klaassen, Matt (10 November 2010). "2010 Beyond the Box Score Catcher Defense Rankings". SB Nation. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  22. Baasch, Ryan (4 December 2011). "Toronto Blue Jays Acquire Jeff Mathis". Blue Jays 101. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  23. "Blue Jays sign McGowan, Litsch, Mathis to 1-year contracts". CBC News. December 12, 2011.
  24. "Cruz has 8 RBIs, Rangers power past Blue Jays 14-3". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. 26 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  25. Links, Zach (14 August 2012). "Blue Jays Sign Jeff Mathis To Extension". MLB Trade Rumors. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  26. "MLB approves mega-deal between Blue Jays and Marlins". November 19, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  27. Spencer, Clark (February 23, 2013). "Miami Marlins backup catcher Jeff Mathis breaks collarbone". Miami Herald.
  28. Baer, Bill (November 1, 2014). "Marlins exercise $1.5 million option on Mathis". Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  29. Frisaro, Joe (December 18, 2015). "Mathis returning to Marlins on one-year deal". Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  30. Spencer, Clark (15 June 2016). "Jeff Mathis grand slam propels Marlins to 5-2 victory over Padres". Miami Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  31. Gilbert, Steve (December 5, 2016). "D-backs add Mathis, continue search for relievers". Archived from the original on March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  32. T.R. Sullivan (November 20, 2018). "Rangers sign veteran catcher Mathis". Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  33. T.R. Sullivan (September 26, 2019). "Mathis done for 2019, as '20 decisions await". Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  34. Jeff Mathis Can't Hit, but He's Good for Baseball | Baseball Bits, retrieved 2020-02-17
  35. "Jeff Mathis Stats, Fantasy & News".
  36. Adams, Steve (February 16, 2021). "Phillies Sign Jeff Mathis To Minor League Deal". Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  37. Adams, Steve (March 24, 2021). "Jeff Mathis Granted Release By Phillies". Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  38. Polishuk, Mark (March 30, 2021). "Braves To Sign Jeff Mathis To Minor League Deal". Archived from the original on March 30, 2021. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  39. Zencka, Tyler (May 2, 2021). "Braves Select Jeff Mathis, Place Alex Jackson On Injured List". Archived from the original on May 2, 2021. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  40. "Braves Acquire Kevan Smith, Designate Jeff Mathis".
  41. "Braves Outright Jeff Mathis".
  42. "Mathis rejoins club after birth of second child".
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