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MLB: Angels send Matthews, cash to Mets

January 22, 2010

NEW YORK — Gary Matthews Jr. was traded from the Los Angeles Angels to the New York Mets on Friday for right-hander Brian Stokes.

Matthews hit .313 with 19 homers and 79 RBIs for Texas in 2006, when he made the AL All-Star team, then signed the big deal with the Angels that turned out to be the worst contract in the team’s history.

He slumped to a .252 average with 18 homers and 72 RBIs during his first season in Anaheim, then lost his center field job when the Angels signed Torii Hunter.

Matthews, who also endured some knee problems in Anaheim, had just 46 RBIs in 2008 and 50 last year, when he started 80 games. Now 35, he is the son of Gary Matthews, the 1973 NL Rookie of the Year.

Matthews expressed a desire to be traded last spring, and reiterated that request this offseason. Sources said that trading Matthews was a major priority for general manager Tony Reagins this winter.

SI.com reported in February 2007 that Matthews was sent human growth hormone by Applied Pharmacy in August 2004, an accusation Matthews denied. Major League Baseball concluded there was insufficient evidence to discipline him.

The 30-year-old Stokes was 2-4 with a 3.97 ERA last season, setting career highs for games (69) and innings (70 1-3). He spent the last two seasons with the Mets after making his big league debut for Tampa Bay.

With Matthews’ departure, the Angels still have Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera in the outfield, with Reggie Willits in reserve.

Hideki Matsui, who signed a one-year deal to be the Angels’ principal designated hitter, has said he would like to play some outfield this season after knee problems limited him to the DH role with the Yankees.

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