Jeff Mathis Rumors

Angels Notes: Maicer Izturis, Jeff Mathis

The Angels made their first major move of the offseason last night, acquiring Chris Iannetta from the Rockies for Tyler Chatwood. Here’s a look ahead at what GM Jerry Dipoto may do next…


Orioles, Rangers Discussing Taylor Teagarden Trade

The Orioles and Rangers have had ongoing talks about a deal that would send Taylor Teagarden to Baltimore, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The teams don't have a match yet, though they have discussed specific players.

The Orioles are looking for a solid defender who's comfortable backing Matt Wieters up, Connolly writes. Baltimore isn't interested in Jeff Mathis, who appears to be available now that the Angels have obtained Chris Iannetta, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). 

The Orioles are showing interest in Jason Varitek, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. They have offers out to some minor league free agents, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko suggests the team will likely make an acquisition today (Twitter link).

While the Orioles have just one catcher — Wieters — on their 40-man roster, the Rangers have three of them. Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba are ahead of Teagarden on Texas' depth chart, making him expendable.


Dipoto Talks Catcher, Callaspo, Trout

Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has been on the job for approximately two weeks and he's starting to get an intimate sense of his organization's strengths and weaknesses. He likes what he sees so far, but there's still a gap between the Angels' roster and where Dipoto wants it to be.

"Right now, we're a highly competitive Major League Baseball team," he told MLBTR in Milwaukee. "Where we want to be is we want to win the World Series and that’ll be the goal every year."

The Angels will look to improve their offense — particularly their ability to get on base — this winter. Jeff Mathis, a non-tender candidate with a projected salary of $1.8MM and a career OBP of .257 faces an uncertain future in Anaheim. But Dipoto, a former big league pitcher, knows the value of an above-average receiver.

"I do think there’s a lot to be said for what a catcher does behind the plate, how he calls the game," Dipoto said, speaking in general terms. "I'd be hypocritical if I told you otherwise. I always liked the guys who could catch. But there’s the balance that you have to bring to the game and that’s a fact."

Dipoto doesn't expect a major reversal in offensive production behind the plate to occur instantaneously. It's possible Mathis will return as an arbitration eligible player in 2012. However, I've heard the Angels are asking around about catchers. 

Dipoto likes Alberto Callaspo’s ability to get on base, make contact and control the strike zone. At this point, it's not clear whether the versatile 28-year-old will return to third in 2012 or play another position. The Angels intend for Mike Trout to play every day whether or not he's in the Major Leagues and questions about service time will be secondary to the young outfielder's ability to excel in the Majors.

"You need to put players in a position where they can be effective, where they can change your future," Dipoto said.



AL West Notes: Darvish, Larson, Mathis, A’s

C.J. Wilson and Derek Holland will start the first two games of the ALCS for the Rangers, with Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison slated for Games 3 and 4 at Comerica Park.  Here's the latest from not only the Rangers, but the entire AL West….

  • Opposing scouts predict the Rangers will win the bidding for Yu Darvish, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  Several teams, including some of the biggest markets in the game, have been rumored to be pursuing Darvish this winter.  Nightengale's scout sources, for the record, unanimously predict "stardom" for Darvish if he jumps to the majors.
  • Mariners minority owner Chris Larson has seen his personal fortune "largely depleted" by the recession and a divorce from his wife, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Larson is the Mariners' largest minority owner, with a stake of 30.63% of the club, and Baker wonders if Larson's financial troubles will affect the team's payroll or force him to sell part of his ownership share.
  • The criticism from Angels fans about Jeff Mathis' poor hitting "has become an emotional drain" for Mathis, opines MLB.com's Lyle Spencer, who thinks the catcher would "settle in and be a fine total player" elsewhere.  Also as part of this mailbag piece, Spencer speculates about two outside-the-box candidates (Bud Black and Joe Maddon) with Angels ties as LAA's next general manager.  
  • The Athletics are expected to pursue Mike Aldrete as the club's new hitting coach, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee.  The A's can't officially talk to Aldrete, the Cardinals' assistant hitting coach, until St. Louis has been eliminated from postseason play.

Pirates, Angels Discussed Jones For Mathis Swap

The Pirates and Angels had serious discussions about a trade that would have sent Garrett Jones to Anaheim for Jeff Mathis, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, the Pirates decided to keep Jones instead of pursuing talks further.

Since the Pirates’ two primary catchers, Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder, are on the disabled list, they’d like to upgrade their catching depth (they’re currently using Michael McKenry and Eric Fryer). However, finding alternatives is proving difficult for the 47-43 Pirates.

The Angels would like to acquire a left-handed power hitter who can play first base, outfield and DH. Though Russell Branyan had potential as a powerful lefty bat, he has hit just .178/.255/.267 since signing with Los Angeles.


Red Sox Still Considering Catching Options

The Red Sox have made contact with Bengie Molina, but aren't ready to move on him yet, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. With Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitting a combined .179/.246/.241 in 123 plate appearances this season, Molina could grow more appealing to the Sox in the near future.

We heard last month that Boston was eyeing catching help and that Molina was on the team's list of possibilities. Although Ivan Rodriguez and Chris Snyder were also on that list, Rosenthal says the Sox are "cool" on Pudge, and the Pirates are more inclined to move Ryan Doumit than Snyder.

Jeff Mathis, who received high praise from Varitek, could be available as well. However, as Rosenthal points out, while Mathis is a strong defensive backstop, his .199/.262/.311 career slash line wouldn't help the Sox.


Cafardo On Rays, Mathis, Flowers, Red Sox

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opens this week's Sunday Notes column by taking a look at how the Rays have succeeded this year depite losing many key players in the offseason. Cafardo points out that the AL East looks like a "very flawed division" so far, meaning the Rays could once again be bunched up with the Yankees and Red Sox in the standings. Here are some other notes from Cafardo:

  • Jason Varitek praised the defensive abilites of Jeff Mathis, who may be a trade candidate: "He’s a very athletic catcher. He has a good arm. He creates a good situation for his pitching staff. You can tell the pitchers really enjoy throwing to him. He’s fun to watch back there because he does things so easily. He’s one of the best."
  • Tyler Flowers, the catcher for the White Sox' Triple-A club in Charlotte, could be available and was scouted by the Red Sox and a handful of other teams in Spring Training.
  • Red Sox minor leaguer Josh Reddick has "generated a lot of chatter among scouts," according to Cafardo, who speculates the outfielder would draw plenty of interest if Boston made him available. One scout on Reddick: "He’s a major league player and he’d be playing for a lot of teams in the big leagues right now."
  • Former Red Sox and White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk would like a chance to instruct young players for either organization, but says he's never received a serious offer to do so.

Cafardo’s Latest: Ortiz, Red Sox, Martin, Angels

In today's column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo wonders what the future holds for David Ortiz after his contract expires at the end of this season. An American League official says the Red Sox should be "looking at keeping his salary level around the same if his production maintains steady." Ortiz, who is earning $12MM in 2011, would like to retire with the Sox, and acknowledges that signing with a National League club is unlikely: "I would have to consider it. I don’t think people want me for that, because I’m a hitter." Here are a few of Cafardo's other notes:

  • In the short term, Marco Scutaro, who has been discussed internally by the Phillies, could be valuable to a team looking for a middle infielder. Down the line, the Sox could still have an excess of infielders – Cafardo says Jose Iglesias should be ready to be a full-time MLB shortstop in 2012, meaning Boston may not have enough room in its lineup for him, Jed Lowrie, and Kevin Youkilis. If I'm the Red Sox, I view that as a good problem to have, and address it if and when it comes to that.
  • A Dodgers official concedes that Russell Martin is "playing great" for the Yankees. "Better than he played for us," adds the official. However, he cautions that Martin tends to fade in the second half, which has to be of some concern for the Yanks. While Martin's career batting splits don't fully back up that assertion, the backstop did miss most of the second half in 2010 with a hip injury.
  • The Angels have been exploring potential trades involving their catchers since Spring Training. They'd likely prefer dealing Bobby Wilson to Jeff Mathis, and may be seeking a left-handed outfield bat in return.

Cafardo On Angels, Red Sox, Reyes

In his Sunday column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that scouting and development people in baseball are extremely underpaid.  While the Pirates, White Sox, Twins, Red Sox, and Yankees are known for taking good care of development people, other clubs are less-than-generous when it comes to salaries and benefits.  Cafardo asked Athletics GM Billy Beane why development and scouting people don’t get paid well.  Beane's response: “The good ones do.’’  Here are some of Cafardo's other Sunday notes:

  • The Angels have a surplus of catchers and prospect Hank Conger is being groomed for the job.  The Red Sox are looking for a veteran catcher they might be able to keep at Triple-A in case someone gets hurt.  It's possible that Jeff Mathis or Bobby Wilson could be a fit for the BoSox.
  • Scouts are watching Boston's bullpen situation closely because Dennys Reyes is becoming a hot commodity.  It would be a tough call for the club as they also have Hideki Okajima signed through this season.  The club has also received interest in Rich Hill.
  • Infielder Drew Sutton seems to be destined for Boston's Pawtucket affiliate, but Cafardo wouldn't be surprised if the club gets some trade interest on the 27-year-old.

Discussion: Could The Angels And Astros Be A Match?

Recently, after learning of Jason Castro's season-ending injury, Astros owner Drayton McLane reportedly decided that the club could allocate extra money to find a backstop for 2011.  It remains to be seen exactly how much funding the team is willing to put towards the catcher position, especially since Houston doesn't seem poised to contend this season and whoever they acquire will be simply keeping the spot warm for Castro.

There are plenty of catchers on the block, such as Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit.  Doumit could fit the bill as a one-year solution, though he will take in $5.6MM on the year when including the $500K buyout of his remaining years.  The Astros' first choice to step in for Castro was Twins catcher Drew Butera, but they were quickly rebuffed.  Nationals backstop Jesus Flores reportedly drew interest from GM Ed Wade but the club is said to have cooled on him in recent days.  The 26-year-old has appeared healthy in Spring Training but Houston is still wary of his surgically repaired right shoulder.

While it seems that Wade won't take advantage of the Nats' glut at the catcher position, he could look elsewhere to find a club with a backstop to spare.  We've yet to hear of the Astros reaching out to the Angels about one of their catchers, but it would make an awful lot of sense for them to make an inquiry. 

While Jeff Mathis is in position to be the club's Opening Day catcher, Bobby Wilson is looking good in Spring Training – both literally and figuratively.  The soon-to-be 28-year-old dropped 33 pounds at the behest of manager Mike Scioscia and seems likely to take the No. 2 position on the depth chart, in part because he's out-of-options.  With youngster Hank Conger waiting in the wings, it would make sense for the Halos to clear a path for the up-and-coming prospect by dealing from a position of strength.  Wilson could obviously be had for less than Mathis, but both catchers have affordable contracts and it's unlikely that either one would be termed "untouchable".