In what is sure to be a busy offseason for the Arizona Diamondbacks, one of their 11 free agents has reportedly signed with another team after Ken Rosenthal reported the Rangers and catcher Jeff Mathis have agreed to terms pending a physical.
#Rangers in agreement with free-agent catcher Jeff Mathis on a two-year contract, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic. Mathis, who will play next season at 36, batted only .200 with a .544 OPS in 218 PAs with the #DBacks last season, but teams value his defense highly.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 16, 2018
While Mathis was not a thumper in the D-backs’ lineup, he provided tremendous pitch-framing for the club. The team’s pitching vastly improved under his watch, going from the worst ERA in the majors in 2015 to ranking third and sixth in 2016 and 2017, respectively. He was second in the league when it came to fielding runs above average (essentially defensive rating) among catchers. He was also a positive clubhouse presence and the preferred catcher for Zack Greinke.
Sources confirm Jeff Mathis has a two-year deal with the Texas Rangers. No exaggeration: Mathis is the most-respected catcher — maybe the most-respected fielder period — in baseball. Pitchers rave about him. Good sign to kick off free agency. @Ken_Rosenthal had agreement first.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 16, 2018
The Diamondbacks currently have Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy, who was tenth in the league in FRAA, under contract at the catcher position. Though, during the Hazen-Lovullo era, the club has kept three catchers on the roster for the majority of the past two seasons.
Catcher prospect Daulton Varsho has risen quickly up the minor leagues rankings, but it is assumed he will need some more minor league time before making the jump to the big league squad.