Gary Matthews Jr. Rumors
The Mets have requested release waivers on outfielder Gary Matthews Jr., writes Pete Kerzel for MLB.com. The club designated Matthews for assignment late last week which gave them ten days to release, trade, or waive the veteran.
Matthews posted a slash line of .190/.266/.241 in 65 plate appearances for the Mets in 2010. After acquiring him for Brian Stokes in January, the Mets were on the hook for just $2MM of the $23.5MM owed to him for this year and next. However, the poor performance of Matthews coupled with the strong play of Angel Pagan meant the end of his time in Queens.
The Mets designated Gary Matthews Jr. for assignment, according to the team. They also called catcher Omir Santos and infielder Ruben Tejada up and placed Luis Castillo on the 15-day DL in related moves. Matthews earns $11MM this year and $12MM next year, but the Angels are still responsible for all but $500K of his 2010 salary and all but $1MM next season.
Matthews, who came to New York in exchange for Brian Stokes over the winter, was a disappointment for the Mets. He hit .190/.266/.241 in 65 plate appearances and though Matthews' defensive reputation was a factor in the $50MM free agent deal he signed, UZR suggests he hasn't been an above-average defender since 2005.
Was a better bargain than Andruw Jones signed this winter? The White Sox added him on a one-year deal worth $500K, and all he's given them so far is a batting line of .260/.360/.604. Meanwhile, the man patrolling his old Atlanta center field home, Nate McLouth, checks in at .167/.302/.271, and Gary Matthews Jr., who will make twice what Jones does from the Mets this year (and next year!), is hitting .152/.235/.196.
The problem is, this hasn't allowed the White Sox to move into contention. Thanks to a 14-20 start, combined with Minnesota's 22-12 beginning, Chicago is already eight games out, with Memorial Day still weeks away. So it may well be that the White Sox can, and should flip Jones to a contending team down the stretch. And that reasonable short-term deal means some of the smaller-market contenders are likely to be in the Jones sweepstakes.
What are some possible destinations?
- Washington could be a good fit. Willie Harris is hitting just .182/.313/.418, and with Willy Taveras also getting outfield at-bats, so Jones could be a good fit for regular corner outfield time. The Nationals have several pitchers set to join the big league team, but little in the way of outfield prospects at the top of their system. For now, the Nationals say they're content with Harris and Roger Bernadina.
- Cincinnati has seen Drew Stubbs struggle in center field so far; he's hitting just .196/.283/.321. It shouldn't be hard to convince Dusty Baker to play the veteran Jones over Stubbs, either. It's not clear that Jones is still an every day center fielder, but Chicago has already played him there four times in 2010.
- The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.
- With Eric Chavez and Jake Fox struggling, and Rajai Davis reverting to form, the Athletics could use Jones in either center field or at designated hitter to support an imposing starting rotation. The move sounds a lot like acquiring Frank Thomas, doesn't it?
- And don't fall asleep on Seattle, either. Currently 6.5 games out, the Mariners have the talent to climb back into the race, but their DHs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, simply aren't hitting. Jones could also slot into left field.
The Mets are shopping outfielder Gary Matthews Jr., reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman suggests the Mets might not have much of a role for Matthews, and the Reds are a trade possibility.
Matthews has two years remaining on his contract, and when the Mets acquired him from the Angels in January the Halos agreed to include $21.5MM. Even on a two-year, $2MM commitment, the Mets will likely find that Matthews has little trade value. Who wants a 35-year-old malcontent who doesn't hit or play strong defense? Free agent Alex Romero, for example, is much younger, won't be a distraction, and can be acquired for a smaller commitment. The Reds, by the way, still have six outfielders in camp (seven if you count Juan Francisco) and no clear need for Matthews.
7:53pm: John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer spoke to a Reds' source who said the team has zero interest in Matthews (link goes to Twitter). The source went so far as to name five outfielders the team has in camp that they'd take over the former Angel.
6:54pm: The Reds are interested in acquiring Gary Matthews Jr. if he can't win the Mets' centerfield job, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Sarge Jr. is currently battling Angel Pagan to replace Carlos Beltran as he recovers from knee surgery, though Olney mentions that Pagan is expected to win the job.
Cincinnati has been seeking outfield help seemingly all winter, though they did just re-sign Jonny Gomes about two weeks ago. They have five other outfielders on their 40-man roster at the moment, though Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs have yet to experience a full season in the big leagues
The Mets acquired Matthews from the Angels back in January, and the Halos are on the hook for all but $2MM of the $23.5MM left on his deal. Even though Matthews has hit just .245/.326/.358 in 837 plate appearances over the last two seasons, $2MM for two years of a fourth or fifth outfielder isn't awful.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why more teams don't take advantage of arbitration hearings. Clubs do have a history of winning cases against their players in recent years. Here are Cafardo's latest rumors:
- A Red Sox source tells Cafardo that it's unlikely the team signs Ben Sheets. Not a surprise, given Boston's rotation depth.
- One scout is certain Ron Mahay will be on a major league roster by the time Spring Training starts.
- An NL scout considers Miguel Batista a "very serviceable piece."
- Since Miguel Cabrera was in rehab for alcoholism this offseason, teams weren't eager to trade prospects for the first baseman and pay his $20MM salary.
- As we heard last week, the Twins are interested in signing Jim Thome.
- The Red Sox and Angels considered swapping Mike Lowell for Gary Matthews Jr. before concerns about Lowell's thumb emerged.
- An AL GM considers Joel Pineiro "another middle-rotation guy."
- White Sox GM Ken Williams said that the club proposed a long-term deal to Bobby Jenks before signing him to a one-year contract, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter).
- Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski admitted that they were "probably too liberal in giving long-term contracts to players," tweets MLB.com's Jason Beck. However, Dombrowski did say they want to sign Justin Verlander, presumably long-term (via Beck's Twitter).
- MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan tweets that there's a strong chance the sale of the Rangers could be completed today.
- At his introductory press conference, Cliff Lee said he was hoping to be wowed by Seattle and the Mariners, and if he is, he would be open to re-signing there according to Larry Stone of The Seattle Times. When asked about his next contract, Lee joked "I want a 10-year deal for about 200 billion. Nah, I don't know."
- Tom Gage of The Detroit News writes that the Tigers have five lefty relievers on their roster, so don't be surprised if one of them gets traded. Bobby Seay might be the most vulnerable of the five (despite being the most established) because he'll make $2.475MM in 2010 and lefties hit him better than righties last year.
- ESPN's Buster Olney spoke to several people in the game about the Mets picking up Gary Matthews Jr., and the general thought is that he "can't hit for average, can't hit for power, his defense ranks statistically among the worst outfielders in the majors, and, to top it off, rival scouts have been reporting that in recent years he has been a clubhouse negative."
- Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald has some quotes from Red Sox principal owner John Henry about the team's offseason.
- Free agent reliever Oscar Villarreal will throw for teams next Friday, tweets Ed Price of AOL FanHouse. He last pitched in the majors back in 2008 with the Astros.
The Mets will acquire Gary Matthews Jr. and cash from the Angels for Brian Stokes. Matthews, who receives $500K for being traded, is set to make $11MM in 2010 and $12MM in 2011. The Angels will pick up all but $2MM of the $23.5MM remaining on the deal.
Matthews joined the Angels before the 2007 season, signing a $50MM deal. He leaves without much fanfare, as he's coming off a season in which he combined poor defense with a .250/.336/.361 line. That's far from the .866 OPS he posted in his 2006 walk year.
The 30-year-old Stokes allowed 72 hits and 38 walks in 70.1 innings last year, striking out 45 for a 3.97 ERA.
Well here's an interesting deal that never came to be. According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, a four-team trade involving Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Luis Castillo, and Gary Matthews Jr. fell apart at the winter meetings for an undisclosed reason.
According to a source, the deal would have sent Bradley to the Rays, Burrell and Castillo to the Cubs, and Matthews Jr. to the Mets. Burrell would have then been spun off elsewhere. No word on what the Halos would have received, though getting rid of Sarge Jr. and presumably at least part of his contract would have been a win.
Some links for Friday...
- Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com expect the Cubs to go after free agent center fielders now that they've dealt Milton Bradley.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn't expect the Reds to deal Aaron Harang in the near future.
- The Chiba Lotte Marines signed Bryan Corey, according to NPB Tracker.
- A source close to Javier Vazquez tells MLB.com's Mark Bowman that it's highly unlikely the pitcher would approve a trade to a west coast team like the Angels. The Braves are still interested in trading Derek Lowe.
- USA Today's Bob Nightengale says it would be an upset to see anyone but the Cardinals sign Matt Holliday.
- Now that the Dodgers have traded Juan Pierre, the Angels are optimistic about unloading Gary Matthews Jr. and his contract, according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse. The Angels will have to eat some of the $23MM owed to Matthews if they hope to deal him.
- O's reliever Jim Johnson tells Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun that he's glad to have new acquisition Mike Gonzalez around.
- Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News says the Yankees still need another arm. Brian Cashman says the Yankees aren't done.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times expects the Yanks to spend big on next year's free agent class.
- New Blue Jay Kyle Drabek tells the Toronto Sun that he doesn't plan on changing his approach, though he does feel some pressure as a major piece of the Roy Halladay trade.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates evaluate players and then stand by the figures they decide on almost all the time. This approach prevents the Pirates from over-spending and sometimes prevents them from signing their targets (like Miguel Angel Sano).
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the Brewers expect Claudio Vargas to take his physical today and finalize his deal.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan examines Scott Boras' relationship with mystery teams.