TORONTO -- The Blue Jays signed veteran catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2015 on Tuesday afternoon.
Mathis will make $1.5 million in each of the first two seasons. The club option is worth another $1.5 million but does not include a buyout.
The 29-year-old Mathis entered Tuesday's action hitting .215 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 46 games. He spent the vast majority of the year as a backup to J.P. Arencibia but then assumed No. 1 duties when the second-year catcher fractured his right hand late last month.
"If we didn't have him, we were going to look for someone like him either way," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said of Mathis. "Obviously, J.P.'s a starter and prior to this year, he's a guy that can handle the load and catch a lot of games.
"Jeff's a great complement to him. We know he's a great defender, he's a tremendous athlete, he's a great teammate and I think he accepts the role and he understands the role and he's still a competitor. If we don't have him, we're looking for that guy."Mathis said the Blue Jays first approached his agent about a possible extension a few weeks ago but the negotiations didn't really become serious until this week. He would have been eligible for free agency at the end of the season for the first time in his career but a guaranteed two years was too much to pass up on.
The native of Florida said he was just happy to get the process out of the way and can now look forward to spending at least a couple of more seasons with an emerging core of players around him.
"Just this group of guys, the staff and the way I feel this organization is headed," Mathis said of his main reason for staying. "I've established a good relationship with a lot of the guys here, a lot of the coaches and all that, so I'm looking forward to being on this team and seeing where it can go."
The signing is a possible indicator that the Blue Jays will be forced to pick either Arencibia or top prospect Travis d'Arnaud to become their catcher of the future. With Mathis under a guaranteed deal, carrying both Arencibia and d'Arnaud at the same time could create some problems.
Anthopoulos tried to downplay that notion on Tuesday by suggesting d'Arnaud could see some time at designated hitter next season depending on what happens with Adam Lind during the offseason. That would seem like an unusual move for an organization that wouldn't want to stunt d'Arnaud's development behind the plate, but Toronto's GM believes d'Arnaud has enough potential on offense to make it an asset.
"Travis could find some ABs there," Anthopoulos said. "Who knows what the offseason is going to bring, it's amazing how quickly things can change. I'd rather have too many players than too few. There's always a way to work those things out."
Mathis hasn't enjoyed a lot of success on offense during his Major League career but has garnered a reputation for being one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He'll be able to take a leadership role as a veteran backup to either Arencibia or d'Arnaud next year and beyond.
In 472 career games, Mathis is a .196 hitter with 32 home runs and 158 RBIs spread out over eight seasons. He was acquired during the offseason from the Angels for left-handed reliever Brad Mills.
After announcing Mathis' deal, the club announced the signing of Yorvit Torrealba to a Minor League deal. Torrealba was placed on waivers by the Rangers last week and while he could help fill the void following Arencibia's injury, it would be very unlikely Toronto would consider bringing him back for 2013.
Torrealba was assigned to Double-A New Hampshire, where he is scheduled to appear in four games. He will then join the Blue Jays on Tuesday in Detroit and begin to split starting duties with Mathis until Arencibia is able to return.
"It's an established big league player that has had some success," Anthopoulos said. "Jeff's been handling the bulk of the role right now, him and Torrealba will split the job.
"We'll see how things go but Jeff knows about it and I even called J.P. about it as well so no one's confused. This is a chance to get a quality big league player and at this stage, it was a no-brainer for us."
Rasmus may return as DH on Wednesday
TORONTO -- Colby Rasmus was held out of the Blue Jays lineup for the fourth consecutive game on Tuesday night because of a strained right groin.
Rasmus aggravated the injury during a game against the Yankees on Aug. 10. He was originally expected to make his return against Chicago on Tuesday night but became a late scratch a few hours prior to first pitch.
"We might have to look to get him in a DH slot initially," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Rasmus' eventual return. "Just running him back into the lineup on both sides of the ball right now is maybe a little too aggressive.
"Want to be sure that he's feeling good about himself and confident from a physical standpoint before running him back out there. But after we went through the work yesterday, thought today might be the day, but we'll hold him out one more day."
The Blue Jays did receive some encouraging news about right fielder Jose Bautista on Tuesday. The veteran slugger took dry swings and hit off a tee on Monday and the did not experience any lingering effects from the workout.
Bautista has been out since July 16 with inflammation in his left wrist. He went through another day of tee work on Tuesday and is scheduled for an off-day from workouts on Wednesday. There is still no timetable for his return but the pain appears to have subsided at least for now.
"Didn't feel it yesterday," Farrell said of the pain. "Before being shut down previously, he felt like he was guided by some discomfort and I think his gut feel at that time was that he had to be cautious. Yesterday was symptom free so the additional down days did him some good."
Bautista is hitting .244 with 27 homers and 65 RBIs in 90 games while also posting an .894 OPS.
Janssen tested by first blown save
TORONTO -- Casey Janssen's perfect run as the Blue Jays' closer came to an end on Monday when he blew his first save since taking over the role in mid-May.
Janssen had a stretch of converting 15 consecutive save opportunities until Chicago's Adam Dunn led off the ninth inning of Monday night's game with a solo homer to left.
That tied the game at 2, but Janssen was able to salvage the inning by retiring the next three batters to help set up an eventual 3-2 victory in 11 innings.
"The big thing right there was we wanted to give the team a chance to win it and keep it tied as best I could," Janssen said. "Quick memory because [Alex] Rios can do some damage as well and every guy in that lineup can, so to get out of there with I guess just giving up one was what I was trying to do."
During Janssen's streak of consecutive saves, he allowed a total of just seven baserunners over 15 2/3 innings. He faced the minimum and 11 of those outings and the 15 straight saves is the sixth-longest stretch in club history.
Not a bad start to Janssen's career as a closer, but it will be his ability to bounce back from a bad outing that will be most telling. That's something Janssen feels he'll be equipped to do because of his long tenure as a setup man.
"I think in your younger days you would have been a little more frustrated but with this job, you have to have a quick memory," Janssen said. "It's pitch to pitch, it's hitter to hitter.
"You hate to blow a game ever but on the bright side, it didn't cost the team a loss and we were able to come back. All in all, it's still a good day, not personally, but for the team."