With J.T. Realmuto finally getting the call to be the full-time man behind the plate, the Marlins seem to have sorted out who their starting catcher is for the foreseeable future. The Marlins also have a little bit of depth at catcher in the aforementioned Realmuto, the recently signed Jeff Mathis, and prospect Thomas Telis. Let’s break down what they all bring to the table.
Realmuto is a young stud who has just come into the majors furiously. Last season was a stellar debut, as Realmuto played in 126 games as the everyday catcher. He batted a respectable .259, created 86 runs, and ended up being worth 1.8 WAR. Not a bad year for somebody who was drafted out of High School at shortstop.
Defensively Realmuto was solid and many reports indicate he has developed chemistry with the Marlins pitching staff. He was a decent catcher on defense but he’s not going to win any awards for his defense. Still, Realmuto is only 25 years-old and just got off his first full season in the majors.
The Fish showed enough faith in his ability to part with Jarrod Saltalamacchia who the team had just signed for multiple years. Combine Salty’s struggles with Realmuto’s emergence and it was the perfect storm in order to get the young catcher a crack in the majors.
Jeff Mathis however is strictly a specialist. Showing no promise at the plate and ended up with a negative WAR of -0.4. In 32 games Mathis only created 29 runs for the Marlins offense, batted sub .200, and by all means had a miserable year.
But, the Marlins re-signed him to come back for one more season for one main purpose, defense. If Mathis is worth a major league roster spot is still way up in the air at this point, but he has been reported to be a good clubhouse influence. Are those two traits worth signing him for another year? Probably not, but that’s what the Marlins did and it looks like Jeff will get another season at the backup catcher spot.
Then there’s prospect Thomas Telis, who the Marlins acquired for Sam Dyson. Telis is still considered a prospect and there are many questions about what type of player he will end up being in the long run. With how inconstant Dyson was throughout the course of the 2015 season, he was a small price to pay for a prospect catcher.
Telis only saw 28 games in the majors combined with the Marlins and Rangers. In the small sample size we did see of Telis, he wasn’t awfully impressive. He ended the season with a negative WAR, and a sub .200 batting average. While he has hardly seen time in the majors, Telis wasn’t impressive at all and the Marlins signing Mathis just puts him further in a hole. The ceiling isn’t much higher than the floor and I don’t think Telis will be making an impact in the majors anytime soon.
If no injuries happen, or last second trades, it looks like J.T. Realmuto will be the everyday catcher in Miami for the 2016 season. Mathis will see time as the primary backup but won’t see an extremely large amount of time behind the dish. If Telis improves and the Marlins see some promise from him, he could also see so time at catcher.