Angels rid themselves of Gary Matthews Jr.

The Angels traded outfielder Gay Matthews Jr. to the Mets in exchange for right-hander Brian Stokes. As part of the deal, the Angels will eat $21.5 million on the two years and $23.5 million that still remain on Matthew’s contract.

Since signing a five-year, $50 million offer with the Angels in 2006, he has hit .248 and had just 316 at-bats last season. With Carlos Beltran expected to be out until at least May following knee surgery, Matthews will add some insurance to the Mets’ outfield.

But general manager Omar Minaya following the trade, Matthews isn’t guaranteed playing time. Angel Pagan hit .306 with six home runs in 88 games last season and will have the opportunity to earn more playing time in spring training. If Matthews wants to play, he better hit in the spring.

Even though they acquired Stokes, this trade was largely about the Halos ridding themselves of Matthews, who turned out to be a massive free agent bust. Stokes, 30, isn’t expected to make much of an impact in L.A. this season after posting a 1.56 WHIP last season for the Mets.

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Offseason Movement: In a major effort to try and bolster their bullet riddled bullpen, the Mets signed top free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez, who saved a record 62-games last season for the Angels. The Mets also acquired reliever J.J. Putz, outfielder Jeremy Reed and RHP Sean Green in a three team swap with the Mariners and Indians. The club signed free agent starter Freddy Garcia, but after he gave up 15 runs in just seven innings this spring, they reassigned him to minor league camp. Livan Hernandez – yet another free agent signing – fared much better and will be the Mets’ fifth starter when the season opens. Casey Fossum, Alex Cora, Darren O’Day, Rocky Cherry, Connor Robertson and Cory Sullivan round out the rest of New York’s offseason additions.

Top Prospect: Wilmer Flores, SS
Outfield prospect Fernando Martinez also deserves mention here, but Flores is already showing potential at just 17 years old. Flores is light years away from the big leagues, but he’s already drawing comparisons to Miguel Cabrera in terms of his potential at such a young age. The Mets will likely move Flores along slowly and let him develop his skills. There’s absolutely no need to rush him, but he’ll get his opportunity to shine in the next couple of years.

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