Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Report: Angels sign free agent OF Matthews, Jr.
ANAHEIM, California - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
have landed the impact player they coveted.
The Angels on Wednesday agreed to terms with center fielder Gary
Matthews Jr. on a five-year deal.
Although no financial details were announced, the Los Angeles
Times reported the deal to be worth $50 million.
One of baseball's premier defensive outfielders, Matthews also
has added an offensive dynamic to his game in recent years. He
hit .313 this past season for the Texas Rangers - by far his
career high - and also recorded personal bests with 19 homers
and 79 RBIs, most by an American League leadoff hitter - en route
to his first All-Star berth.
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman is looking to upgrade the
club's stagnant offense at third base, first base and center
field. The late-blooming Matthews helps accomplish just that,
allowing Chone Figgins to move permanently to third base or back
to his super-sub role.
"One of our objectives during this offseason was to improve
ourselves in center field," Stoneman said. "We believe Gary is
a great fit for this ballclub. In addition to his outstanding
play in center field, he has the versatility to leadoff or hit
deeper in the batting order."
Matthews entered 2006 with a career average of .253, with a high
mark of .276 as a role player for Baltimore in 2002. In fact,
he played for five teams in his first five major league seasons,
including a pair of stints with San Diego.
Matthews hit for the cycle against Detroit on September 13, but
the highlight of his season came on July 1, when he made one of
the most spectacular catches in baseball history, robbing
Houston's Mike Lamb of a home run with a leaping, twisting grab
over the center field wall.
The 32-year-old Matthews has a .263 average with 78 home runs
and 315 RBIs in 875 games over his eight-year career.
The allure of playing at home and for a perennial playoff
contender seems to have drawn Matthews to the Angels. Matthews'
parents live in Southern California and his 9-year-old son
lives in Santa Monica.