It was recently announced that the Miami Marlins have exercised the team option on Jeff Mathis, employing him for the 2015 baseball season. The option means that Mathis will earn a salary of $1.5 million.
This was one of the few situations that the Marlins could have gone either way. On one hand, the Miami front office knows exactly what they are getting in Mathis. He will provide them with excellent defense and a superb ability to lead a pitching staff, but he swings a wet noodle for a bat.
His offensive numbers are below anemic, as he slashed .200/.263/.274. He managed 2 home runs and 12 RBI’s in 64 games as a backup catcher for Miami. He was a solid alternative to Miami’s starting catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hits much better than he plays defense.
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The interesting choice would have been for the Marlins to give one of their young catchers a chance to be the backup and get some big league experience. Of course, that would have been much more risky, but could have paid off in the long term.
Sep 26, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Marlins catcher Jacob Realmuto (60) hits a two run triple during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals in game two of a baseball doubleheader at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Marlins currently have two young catchers Rob Brantly and J.T. Realmuto. A couple of years ago, Brantly was thought to be the catcher of the future as he came over in a trade from Detroit. A couple of disastrous seasons later, and Brantly doesn’t seem like he is going to be able to cut it defensively. His shortcomings in the field could cause the Marlins to try him out at first base, but he may not hit well enough to be a legitimate first base prospect either.
The wildcard in this situation is Realmuto. J.T. had a breakout season this year in the minor leagues, and while his defense isn’t stellar, it is certainly more advanced than Brantly, and maybe even Salty as well. Add that to some solid power and a slash line of .299/.369/.461 and Miami is thinking they might have a dark horse for their future catcher.
All of this will apparently require another year to play out as Miami will again provide Mathis will another season. In my opinion, I agree with the decision to bring Jeff back. It would be to risky to depend on one of the Marlins young catchers to provide enough leadership that is necessary for this young pitching staff. I am hopeful that this season will be the one that they show that they are capable and ready to take the reins from Mathis and provide the type of play that is necessary for a roster spot.
What do you think about this decision? Would you have done something different? Let us know in the comments below!