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2007 MLB Free Agents: Gary Matthews Jr.

The Rangers would like to retain free agent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., but competition could be fierce if he hits the market.  It's important to remember that Sarge Jr. will be entering his age 32 season in 2007.  Perhaps his athleticism will help him age better. 

While Matthews's .372 OBP is a career high, you'll notice that it's entirely batting average driven.  He hasn't improved his walk rate at all this season.  The improvement in batting average is tied to more frequent contact - he's up to 84% in that department.  He's also got a career high SLG.  The increase can be attributed to doubles and triples, as Matthews's flyball percentage and home runs per flyball have not changed.  It stands to reason that he'll regress to something near .270/.330/.440 in 2007. 

Matthews has been abandoned by the Padres (twice), Cubs, Pirates, Orioles (twice), Braves, and Mets.  He's dealt with all kinds of injuries in the past few years: ribcage strain, hamstring strain, calf strain, sliced thumb from slicing a bagel, and wrist tendinitis. 

Despite all this, I'm not down on Matthews as a free agent signing.  The average center fielder hits about .270/.335/.425 and plays, well, average defense.  Matthews should be able to hit a little better than that and play plus defense.  Sure, he'll decline from his career season.  But CFs like Matthews don't grow on trees.  Would you rather have the defense of Dave Roberts out there? 

Lately the possibility has been raised of the Mariners signing Matthews.  This would be an odd signing, given the Mariners' decent outfield arrangement and dire need for starting pitching.

Should the Rangers fail to retain Matthews, both Chicago teams, the Astros, Cardinals, and Rockies could all be interested.  I'd be impressed if any team could get him for fewer than three years.  He made $2.4MM this year, but could command $7-8MM annually on the open market.   

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Comments

I don't see why the White Sox would be interested. Perhaps the Twins, Red Sox, Rockies or Giants or Rangers will go after him.

Depends on whether the Sox want to go with Brian Anderson in 2007.

Jerry Owens would be a cheaper solution with more speed. Matthews Jr. would command a much higher salary. Only if Podsednik is traded or cut would I consider a one year stint from Sarge Jr. if I was KW.

Owens can't hit

Neither could BA but Ozzie and Kenny were patient with him. There are really a lot of outfield options with the White Sox but it depends if you're willing to throw your young players into the fire, where we could see similar results to the Brian Anderson experiment this year.

Jerry Owens line at AAA this year... .262/.330/.346 so what makes you think he's ready for the majors?

Since when were the White Sox worried about hitting?

For all I care they could give Ryan Sweeney the job. I'm just concerned about how they get rid of Pods and Crede and what they get for them(or if by some ridiculous miracle they got rid of Pods, acquired a leadoff hitter and let Fields play in left with Anderson in center).

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