The Mets, anxious about the recovery of centerfielder Carlos Beltran, acquired Gary Matthews Jr. from the Angels on Friday in a trade for reliever Brian Stokes.
As part of the deal, as first reported by SI.com's Jon Heyman, the Angels will give the Mets $21.5 million of the $23.5 million that Matthews is owed for the next two seasons.
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"I felt, with Carlos being out, it's an opportunity to get a guy who's versatile and who - in our ballpark - can play all outfield positions," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said in a telephone news conference Friday. "With Carlos or without Carlos, it makes our team better."
Beltran had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last week, and the Mets announced that he will need 12 weeks of down time before resuming baseball activities.
Minaya, not wanting to be pinned down on a return date for Beltran, said: "When a guy starts baseball activities, he usually takes four weeks to six weeks . You have to give yourself some extra time. Even when he does come back, you want to be able to give him some rest, too."
Matthews signed with the Angels after a stellar 2006 season with Texas, receiving a five-year, $50-million contract. But he declined in his three-season stint in Southern California; in 2009, he had a .336 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage in 103 games, hitting four homers.
"He's mostly a change-of-scenery guy," Minaya said of Matthews. "He has an opportunity to come to New York and hopefully get some more playing time. The key for him is going to be playing time. He has had some years of reasonable production and some of lower production."
Minaya said he still is pursuing catchers and starting pitchers, although he sounded more confident about sticking with his current group of catchers - Henry Blanco, Chris Coste, Omir Santos and Josh Thole.
Stokes became one of the Mets' better relievers last season, recording a 3.79 ERA in 70 1/3 innings in 69 games.