Jeff Mathis Open to Playing in 2021

Chris Halicke

With how the catching situation has played out for the Texas Rangers in 2020, all signs point to Jose Trevino as the No. 1 catcher in 2021. Robinson Chirinos was flipped at the trade deadline for a player to be named later. Jeff Mathis is the No. 2 when Trevino is healthy. Although the sky is the limit, catching prospect Sam Huff will likely start 2021 in the minor leagues.

In his pregame Zoom call with the media on Thursday, Rangers manager Chris Woodward envisions a veteran catcher to complement Trevino next season, much like Mathis has done this season. The Rangers haven't formally made any offers, but Mathis is open to a potential reunion in 2021, even in a mentor-type of role.

"I understand where I am at in my career," Mathis told the media via Zoom on Thursday. "I know the mentor part would be a part of it anywhere I feel like I would be going. It’s something I take a lot of pride in. I like it here. There are a lot of good people in this organization and I have been excited to be around them and this clubhouse and this group over last year and a half. If I am back next year, that would be awesome."

While Mathis has done a superb job working with both young and veteran pitchers during his tenure in Texas, his offensive production has been on the fan's laundry list of complaints regarding the Rangers.

"I'm disappointed where I am now, hovering around the .180 mark," Mathis said. "But at the same time, the effort that I've put into to that offensive side throughout the years gives me a little bit of comfort. The numbers are gonna be what they are. But it never came from a situation where I wasn't trying to make that adjustment."

The Rangers will have to decide whether they want to ride that fine line of the type of value Mathis brings to the table while risking production at the plate. If the Rangers were closer to contending it might make more sense to move on from Mathis. However, a familiar face in the clubhouse could help the younger players develop at a quicker pace.

"You would like obviously for somebody to be the complete player," Woodward said of Mathis. "I think right now, where we are going, his value off the field is very important with so many young guys on our team, not only on the offensive side but on the pitching side. In hitter’s meetings, in pitcher’s meetings, his input is critical because we are looking to learn and develop. We are trying to fast forward as fast as possible and his expertise is critical for us doing that." 

Mathis coming back as a player may not be the only option. When Mathis decides his playing days are over, he may decide to stay in the game as a coach. With the relationship he has with the Rangers, there could be a different type of reunion either next year or further into the future.

"I'm interested, for sure," Mathis said. "Baseball's all I know. I've been doing it for a long time, and I've been blessed to do so. But, yeah, it's definitely something that I'm interested in and would like to pursue." 

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