MIAMI -- Jeff Mathis, a valued clubhouse leader and dependable backup catcher, has agreed to a one-year deal to return to the Marlins. Mathis will earn $1.5 million, the same figure he made in 2015.
One of the most popular players on the team, Mathis served as a veteran mentor to rookie catcher J.T. Realmuto and has earned the trust and praise of the pitching staff. His presence also allows catching prospect Tomas Telis to get regular playing time in the Minor Leagues, rather than come off the bench in the big leagues.
• Hot Stove Tracker
"He's a veteran stabilizer," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Friday. "He's great in our clubhouse. Great with our pitching staff. Almost like another coach on the field in terms of what he brings on a daily basis, preparation, execution. We're just happy to bring him back."
Hill spoke to MLB.com on Friday morning at Marlins Park, after the organization's ring ceremony honoring the Marlins RBI team that won the Senior Division Championship in August at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Mathis is valued for his defense and handling of pitchers. He threw out five of 16 runners who attempted to steal off him in 2015. At the plate, he's clearly struggled. His slash line was .161/.214/.290 last year, and in 11 big league seasons, he's a .194/.254/.306 hitter.
Many players credited Mathis and third baseman Martin Prado for uniting the clubhouse, especially in the final few months of the 2015 season.
Mathis was acquired by the Marlins in November 2012 as part of a 12-player trade with the Blue Jays. He became a free agent in early November, but the Marlins expressed strong interest in bringing him back. The club preferred not going into Spring Training without a veteran catcher. Realmuto and Telis are both 24.
In Realmuto, the club feels it has a rising catching star. As a rookie, Realmuto relied heavily on Mathis' insights and experiences.
"For J.T., he knows this is someone who has his best interests," Hill said. "He wants to help him develop into the best catcher he possibly can be, without thinking he's going to steal his job and give him bad information or anything that is counterproductive to his growth. So he can learn and take from Mathis' experiences."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.