Mets Trade Brian Stokes for Gary Matthews, Jr.
It appears to be a done deal: Jon Heyman has reported on SI.com that the Mets have sent Brian Stokes to the Angels for outfielder Gary Matthews, Jr.
The Mets will be responsible for paying only $2M of the remaining $23M+ left on Little Sarge’s contract.
And this makes sense how?
I know, I know … a few days ago I pointed out the Mets were desperate for a backup outfielder with the ability to play centerfield. But why pay $2M and give up a healthy arm for an aging outfielder with declining skills when you could have easily re-signed either Cory Sullivan or Jeremy Reed to a minor league deal worth less than $1M?
The logic, I suppose, is that Matthews could possibly return to the form that posted 19 HR, .313 AVG, and Gold Glove-like fielding in 2006. Unfortunately, Rudy Jaramillo is not the Mets’ batting coach, the Mets are not moving to the Ballpark at Arlington, and PEDs are still banned in MLB.
Matthews is 35 years old, turning 36 in August. His skills declined so quickly after signing with the Angels that they put his $55M contract on the bench. That didn’t set well with him, and he was so unhappy with the situation, and so affected the Angels clubhouse, that the Angels were willing to eat $22M to make him go away.
Remember now, the Angels were perennial postseason participants. Do you think Matthews is going to be thrilled to be riding the bench for the struggling Mets?
Further, the Mets now have to commit another spot on the 25-man roster to an aging, injury-prone veteran with a guaranteed contract. This small detail is a big deal when a team carries 12 pitchers, and thus has room for only 4 non-catching bench players. Half of those precious spots are now cemented with Matthews and Alex Cora. Not a flexible situation, is it?
Yes, if things don’t work out with Matthews they could simply release him. Another $2M down the drain. Not much on its own, but a few million here, a few million there, eventually adds up.
Maybe I’m overreacting. Perhaps Little Sarge will magically rediscover the athleticism of his (enhanced) youth, transform into an unselfish, team-first ballplayer, and lead the Mets to the playoffs with an All-Star season.
Anything is possible, after all.