Angels deal Gary Matthews Jr. [updated]
The Angels signed Matthews to a five-year, $50-million free-agent contract before the 2007 season. But he batted just .252 that season, and the team signed Torii Hunter for five years and $90 million to replace him in center field that winter, relegating Matthews to a fourth outfielder spot for much of the next two seasons. Matthews had repeatedly asked the Angels to trade him during that time, but his sizable contract has made that difficult to do.
However, the Mets, after learning this month that their center fielder, Carlos Beltran, would miss the start of the season after undergoing knee surgery, proved a willing trade partner. Sort of: The Angels agreed to pay the majority of the $23 million left on Matthews' contract.
A 35-year-old switch-hitter, Matthews hit .250 with four homers and 50 RBI in 103 games last season. Stokes, 30, went 2-4 with a 3.97 earned-run average in a career-high 69 games for the Mets last season.
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: Gary Matthews Jr. makes a diving catch during a preseason game against the San Diego Padres on April 4. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times