Braves acquire catcher Kevan Smith from Rays

Atlanta designated Jeff Mathis for assignment

The Braves bolstered their catching depth again Wednesday, acquiring veteran Kevan Smith from the Rays for cash considerations.

Smith, 32, was recently designated for assignment when previously injured Rays catcher Francisco Mejia rejoined the club. Smith has appeared in three games this season, going 1-for-4. He previously played for the White Sox (2016-18) and Angels (2019) before spending parts of the past two seasons with Tampa Bay.

“I know talking with the Rays, talking with Charlie (Morton, who spent his previous two seasons with Tampa Bay), guys really like him over there,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just adding depth to the position. ... Kevan, you look at his numbers, he’s been a guy who doesn’t strike out a lot and can swing the bat a little bit. I saw him in Triple-A a few years ago with the White Sox. They say reports are good on him.”

“We’ve got a lot of trust in him,” Rays manager Kevin Cash recently said, via Adam Berry of MLB.com. “If somebody goes down, we feel comfortable with the knowledge that he has of our pitching staff, the ability that he can go up and put together good at-bats.”

Smith was active for the Braves’ series finale against the Mets Wednesday. He’s wearing No. 52.

In additional moves, the Braves designated catcher Jeff Mathis for assignment. Mathis, 38, went 0-for-9 in three games but drew positive reviews for how he handled pitchers. Smith replaces him as William Contreras’ backup. The Braves hope to retain Mathis, who will need to clear waivers.

“Jeff is awesome,” Snitker said. “Everything came as billed. He did a great job. Hopefully he stays with the organization. I’d like to have him. We’ll know something tomorrow if he can and continue to be with our club here. It’d be great.”

Smith offers more offensively than Mathis. He’s hit .271/.320/.383 in 146 career games. The Braves have been maneuvering their catching situation since Travis d’Arnaud required thumb surgery that sidelined him for multiple months. The team is currently rolling with Contreras, who’s shown good and bad in his longest major-league trial to date. The Braves also signed veteran Jonathan Lucroy, who’s in Triple-A and provides further depth. Be it Mathis, Smith or Lucroy, the team values having an experienced player behind Contreras.

The Braves also reinstated lefty Grant Dayton (left-thigh inflammation) from the injured list and optioned starter Tucker Davidson back to Triple-A following his start Tuesday.

The Braves entered Wednesday at 19-23, trying to avoid being swept by the National League East-leading Mets.