Angels trade Jeff Mathis to Blue Jays for pitcher Brad Mills
The Jeff Mathis era -- cynical Angels fans would call it an error -- came to an end Saturday morning when the Angels traded the weak-hitting catcher to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Brad Mills, a 26-year-old left-hander who spent parts of the past three seasons in the big leagues.
Mathis, who hit .174 with three home runs and 22 runs batted in this past season, became expendable when the Angels acquired catcher Chris Iannetta from the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Tyler Chatwood on Wednesday.
Mills is not expected to develop into a Cy Young Award candidate, but new Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto did well to get something for Mathis, who had virtually no trade value and was not expected to be tendered a contract by the Dec. 12 deadline.
Mills, a Mesa, Ariz., native who pitched for the University of Arizona, has a 2-3 record and 8.57 earned run average in 14 big-league appearances, nine of them starts. He struck out 45 and walked 31 in 48 1/3 innings.
The athletic and agile Mathis has been one of baseball's better defensive catchers since the Angels called him up in 2006, but he has been one of the game's weakest hitters, with a .194 career average, .257 on-base percentage, 26 homers and 139 RBIs in 426 games.
Compounding the frustration of Angels fans was the fact that for several years, Manager Mike Scioscia often played Mathis over the power-hitterMike Napoli, who was never as good defensively but had excellent plate discipline and hit 20-25 homers a year.
Napoli, of course, was traded to Toronto last winter and subsequently traded to Texas, where he hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 runs batted in this season to help the Rangers reach the World Series.
Photo: Angels catcher Jeff Mathis congratulates relief pitcher Scott Downs after defeating the Chicago White Sox in May. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times