The Mets on Friday acquired Gary Matthews, Jr. from the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Brian Stokes. Matthews is expected to compete with Angel Pagan for the center field job until Carlos Beltran is ready to come back from his controversial knee surgery.
Matthews signed what is considered to be one of the worst contracts in baseball history (from the team’s perspective) following a career year in 2006 — five years, $50 million. There is $23 million and two years left on the deal. The Angels are sending along $21 million to cover almost all of the contract. This is the only thing that makes this deal even remotely decent for the Mets.
For $2 million, they take a chance that Matthews (left, making the catch that made him famous in 2006) can fill in admirably for Beltran, then settle in as a fourth outfielder. They lose Stokes, who is a good, solid reliever, but not a difference maker. I would have been much happier if it had been the horrible Sean Green (why is he still on the team?) going to L.A., but losing Stokes will not be the difference between contending and not contending in 2010.
There had been reports the teams were considering a Matthews-Luis Castillo swap, with the Mets getting less money back in the deal. That would have allowed the Mets to sign Orlando Hudson. But alas, Castillo is still a Met.
On another front, the Mets are said to be serious about signing Ben Sheets. They were apparently impressed with his throwing exhibition earlier this week. The Mets are in a position to outbid any other team for Sheet’s services. But as witnessed with Bengie Molina and Joel Piniero, the Mets’ money may not be good enough. Even if they sign Sheets, as I’ve said in the past, I would also sign Jon Garland. I don’t want a rotation that relies on Maine, Pelfrey and Perez. Two of them, fine, but not all three.
One more thing. I wrote more than a month ago that I think Omar Minaya is working on something big. Nothing has happened so far, but I still think he is. Minaya has to know that he can’t go into the season with this roster — basically the same roster that has failed to make the playoffs for the past three seasons. I still think it will involve the Reds and some combination of Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang or Brandon Phillips. Reports say the Reds are desperate to trade Harang. But they want a top prospect in return, and not many teams are biting. To save money, they may turn to Plan B and deal Arroyo and his contract. That’s when I think the Mets, and other teams, will jump in.