Friday, December 4, 2009

The Market for Gary Matthews Jr

Update: I'm reposting this piece from late October about the market for Gary Matthews Jr. because as Rosenthal and Morosi are reporting, the Angels are trying hard to move Matthews:

"The Angels are working hard to trade Gary Matthews Jr. to clear money for other pursuits, according to major-league sources.

For his part, Matthews has not changed his position.

He would welcome the move.

"They know where we stand," Matthews' agent, Scott Leventhal, told "Gary wants to play every day, and he wants to play center field."

Two words for GM Tony Reagins: Good luck. Does anyone actually think the Angels will find a trade partner for Matthews Jr?

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During his three years with the Angels, Gary Matthews Jr. has cemented his legacy as one of the biggest free agent busts in Angels' history. Now with two years left on that deal, Matthews wants out:
"I don't expect to be back; it's time to move on," outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. said as he packed his belongings in the team's Angel Stadium clubhouse today. "I'm ready to play for an organization that wants me to play every day. This organization has other plans, and that's OK."
Great. Problem solved, right? The Angels can just go out on the market and find a team interested in picking up Matthews and the $23 million owed to him over the next two years, right?

No. Actually, hell no. We're not talking about the 2006 version of Gary Matthews Jr (great OF defense, solid hitter, 15-20 HR power), we're talking about the 2009 version of Gary Mathews Jr, who was a below average hitter, demonstrated little power, and was a horrible defensive OF (-22.3 UZR in 2009). Fangraphs valued Matthews at -$5.2 million dollars this season. Ouch.

At this stage in his career, there are only two scenarios in which I can see Matthews Jr. actually getting traded.

1. Bad Contract Swap
2. Angels eat most of his salary

Are there any teams out there willing to take a chance on Gary Matthews Jr as a starting OF?

Bad Contract Swap

-Mariners: If the Mariners could swap Carlos Silva for Matthews Jr, I think they would do it. I doubt the Angels would have any interest in Silva though.

-Cubs: If the Cubs could swap Milton Bradley for Matthews Jr, would they do it? Maybe. Matthews Jr might not be anything more than a 4th OF at this point, but he's not a clubhouse cancer like Milton Bradley.

(Note: Would the Angels take on Bradley after dealing with Jose Guillen a few years back? Doubtful.)

-Mets: As bad as Oliver Perez was for the Mets this season, I don't think they would even consider dealing him for Gary Matthews Jr. straight up. Not enough upside for the Mets.

Angels eat most/all of his salary

-Padres: Matthews has been here twice before and could be a low cost/potentially high reward option for the Padres if Matthews can turn it around.

-Brewers: If Mike Cameron bolts, could the Brewers could give Matthews an opportunity to play center if the Angels cover his salary?

-Marlins: If the Fish cut ties with Hermida this winter and are not sold on Cameron Maybin quite yet, then maybe Matthews can get a chance here solely because the Angels are picking up the tab.

I think Reagins will be able to find a team willing to take on Matthews Jr., but the Angels would have to pick up a significant amount of money. Is that something the Angels would be willing to do? Essentially, the team that acquires Matthews would be paying him virtually nothing, simply hoping that he recaptures his 2006 swing and defense. Is there any upside for the Angels in making this move?

***How much of Matthews' salary do you think the Angels would have to pick up?***

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