Blue Jays give Jeff Mathis a two-year extension

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Is it April 1 already?

Believe it or not, the Blue Jays signed backup catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $3 million extension with a $1.5 million option for 2015, the team announced Tuesday.

It’s a pretty amazing statement, given that, of the 461 players with at least 1,000 plate appearances the last eight seasons, Mathis has the game’s worst batting average, on-base percentage, OPS and OPS+ since he debuted in 2005. He’s a career .196/.256/.312 hitter with 32 homers and 158 RBI in 1,336 at-bats.

Now, Mathis has been better this year; he’s all of the way up to .215/.252/.415 with six homers in 135 at-bats. However, most of that success came early. Since May 6, he’s at .209/.220/.374 in 115 at-bats. Playing an expanded role with J.P. Arencibia hurt, he’s hitting .118 in 34 at-bats this month.

Of course, it’s not much money. $1.5 million per year is a pretty standard rate for a backup catcher. Mathis, though, is turning 30 next spring, and it’s not like he projects to take a big step forward. He figures to remain a disaster offensively, without being all that great defensively. He is throwing out baserunners at the best rate of his career this year (an impressive 39 percent), but he’s never been so good previously.

What this contract suggests is that the Jays don’t see themselves ever going to a tandem of Arencibia and top prospect Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. That could mean Arencibia, the weakest defender of the group, will become trade bait next summer or maybe even this winter.

But the real stunner here is that Jeff Mathis now has job security. Jeff Mathis! The SABR community will be none too happy with Alex Anthopoulos over that fact.

Red Sox want to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.

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Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are actively trying to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. In fact, the Mets were discussing such a trade with the Mets before they ultimately acquired Jake Marisnick from the Astros last week.

The Red Sox have made it no secret that they plan to reduce payroll. They’re currently above $218 million, about $10 million above the competitive balance tax threshold. Bradley is projected to earn $11.5 million in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility.

While Bradley continued to play above-average defense, his offense has left a bit to be desired. He has an aggregate adjusted OPS of 90 over the past three seasons (100 is average), matching his mark of 90 in 2019 specifically. Bradley hit .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs, 62 RBI, and 69 runs scored in 567 plate appearances.

Since an acquiring team would likely be on the hook for most or all of Bradley’s salary, the Red Sox wouldn’t get much in return in a trade. With the Mets out of the picture, the Cubs and Diamondbacks are a couple of teams that could match up with the Red Sox on a trade involving Bradley.