Mathis agrees to Jays' extension; Torrealba signs minor-league deal: Griffin
On Tuesday, the Jays agreed to terms of a minor-league contract with 34-year-old catcher Yorvit Torrealba, released by the Texas Rangers on August 8. At the same time,Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos announced that catcher Jeff Mathis has agreed to terms on a two-year extension, for $1.5 million per year, plus an option for 2015 at the same pricetag.
“(Catcher J.P.) Arencibia's proved prior to this year he's a guy that can catch a lot of games and handle the load and Jeff's a great complement to him," GM Alex Anthopoulos said. "He's a great defender, a tremendous athlete, he's a great teammate, he accepts the role and he understands the role. If we don't have him, we're looking for that guy."
Meanwhile, Torrealba will report to AA-New Hampshire, where he will play four games, then join the Jays in Detroit for the opener of their series against the Tigers. He is expected to split the starter's role with Mathis for the final 41 games of the regular season.
“He's somebody who's been around, a high energy player, intense, he's done a good job everywhere he's been," Anthopoulos said "And, again, there's really no downside to signing a guy like that.
"He's been told when J.P. comes back, J.P.'s the starter, Jeff is the backup and he would go to third string. At that point, if we don't have playing time for him we could find him a home somewhere else . If not then he'd be with the organization to the end of the year."
Arencibia, with a fractured right hand, is having the hard cast removed and replaced by a soft cast. But that still leaves him weeks away from a return to the active roster.
The Mathis extension and the Torrealba signing have no impact on one another, but does cast into doubt the plausibility of starting incumbent Arencibia and top minor-league prospect Travis D'Arnaud co-existing on the same major-league roster.
In terms of the present, Anthopoulos spoke about the seeming coincidence in the timing of the Mathis extension and the signing of Torrealba, whether the extension was designed to reassure Mathis of his future role with the Jays.
“The fact is I talked to Jeff about the contract just before the trade deadline," Anthopoulos said. "Then the trade deadline came up, had a baby, things got slowed down. Then when I came back I just wanted to let him know, before we were done, about Torrealba. It could be a possibility. I wanted to tell him ahead of time. Before we finalized it, I called J.P. as well. I called both guys.I didn't want them to be blind-sided.I wanted them to hear it from me first."
Torrealba became expendable with the Rangers after they traded for Cubs' catcher Geovany Soto. Starter Mike Napoli, a free agent following the season, has been having trouble staying healthy and is struggling with the bat. He is currently on the DL.
Torrealba, in his second season with the Rangers, was batting .236, with a .302 on-base average and a .342 slugging percentage. He had been designated for assignment, cleared waivers and was released by the Rangers. The 5-11, 200 lbs. Venezuelan catcher was earning $3.25 million in Texas, so any team that had selected him off waivers a week ago would have been responsible for the remainder of that contract. By waiting until he was released and became a free agent, teams can pay him the equivalent of the major-league minimum, pro-rated for the final 40-plus games.
The Jays on July 25 handed over the starting catcher duties to veteran Jeff Mathis, who had been signed to back up J.P. Arencibia in the off-season. Ascending into the backup role behind Mathis was minor-leaguer Yan Gomes. The 25-year-old Brazilian born Gomes has struggled at times defensively and is better served as a utility man, with the ability to be a third catcher. He has also played first base, third base and left field for the Jays.
Since taking over from Arencibia, into Tuesday,Mathis had played well defensively, but batted .164, in 16 games, with a .190 on-base average, a .273 slugging percentage and a .463 OPS. The Jays were 7-12 in the 19 games without Arencibia.