The Texas Rangers and Jeff Mathis have agreed on a two year deal, per Ken Rosenthal on Twitter. Mathis, who will be 36 when he season starts, was a long-time catcher for the Anaheim Angels whose defense kept Mike Napoli on the bench. He also spent time with Toronto and the Marlins, and spent the last two seasons with the Diamondbacks.
Saying that Mathis can’t hit is an understatement — he’s a historically bad hitter, putting up a career .198/.258/.306 slash line in his career. However, he’s considered s top-notch defensive catcher, and the Rangers have indicated that they wanted someone more defense-oriented than Robinson Chirinos, whose 2019 option they declined.
Mathis will presumably be a backup — he’s had more than 300 plate appearances in a season once, and hasn’t started more than 70 games behind the plate since 2011 — and one has to think that the Rangers may have an eye on him mentoring Isiah Kiner-Falefa and working with the young pitchers the team is trying to develop. The question now is whether the Rangers will plan on IKF getting the bulk of the starts behind the plate in 2019, or if they will look to bring in another catcher to be the starter.