Marlins in market for backup catcher

Mathis reaches two-year deal with D-backs

Marlins in market for backup catcher

MIAMI -- Add backup catcher to the Marlins' shopping list during the Winter Meetings.

Jeff Mathis, who had been with Miami since 2013, reached agreement Friday with the D-backs on a two-year deal, MLB.com has confirmed. The deal is reportedly worth $4 million.

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. ET.

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Mathis was one of the most respected players on the Marlins since he was acquired in a blockbuster, 12-player trade with the Blue Jays after the 2012 season.

The 33-year-old, who made $1.5 million in 2016, was a free agent, but the Marlins were still hopeful they could bring him back in 2017. However, in recent weeks, the club has been monitoring the market for catching depth.

Tomas Telis, called up in September, is a candidate to become the backup to J.T. Realmuto. But Miami still may bring in a veteran or two to compete for the job in Spring Training.

A highly respected leader in the clubhouse, Mathis was mainly a defensive specialist and an astute handler of pitchers. In 2016, he batted .238/.267/.333 with two home runs and 15 RBIs.

Mathis made 36 starts and caught in 38 games, and he had a catcher ERA of 3.28, while throwing out 10 would-be basestealers in 23 attempts. In 310 innings, Mathis allowed one passed ball and had a fielding percentage of .991.

Telis, a switch hitter, spent almost the entire season at Triple-A New Orleans. He caught 12 innings for Miami in 2016.

A native of Venezuela, Telis was 4-for-13 (.308) in limited chances with the Marlins. He started the season finale at Washington, and belted his first MLB home run, which came off 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.

Telis' first Major League homer

Telis is more of an offensive threat than Mathis, but his defense is a work in progress. At New Orleans, he did improve defensively in all areas, including his framing of pitches.

At the plate, he had a slash line of .310/.362/.429 with six home runs and 45 RBIs. He even played some first base to get his bat into the lineup.

There are free-agent catching options the Marlins may also consider, like Geovany Soto and Dioner Navarro.

Cost will likely be a factor, because Miami is looking to place much of its financial resources into pitching candidates.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.