Christmas just came early for Angel fans as news breaks that the Angels have traded Jeff Mathis, easily one of the most maligned players in franchise history, to Toronto for lefty pitcher Brad Mills.
After acquiring catcher Chris Iannetta earlier this week, the writing was on the wall that Mathis’ reign of terror would be coming to an end, but to see that it is now official almost bring a tear of joy to my eye. Not only did GM Jerry Dipoto get rid of Mathis, but he actually got something in return for him in the form of Brad Mills. For that alone, Dipoto should receive a standing ovation.
Ironically, Dipoto did have to once again deal with the Blue Jays, the team that Reagins trade Mike Napoli to which ultimately exacerbated the Mathis problem can cost Tony his job. Part of me can’t help but wonder if Toronto’s GM Alex Anthopolous kind of did the Angels a solid after he boned them over so royally the last time.
Overall, this is a win-win for the Halos. Cutting Mathis loose saves them approximately $2 million that he would have earned via arbitration and saves Mike Scioscia from the temptation to use Mathis stellar glove (and it is stellar, which is why anyone was willing to give up assets for it) over Iannetta’s hopefully potent bat. This should make Iannetta the unquestioned full-time starter at backstop with Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger left to battle over the back-up gig.
As for Mills, I believe he is out of options, so he will have to fight for a roster spot in spring training. He is a soft-tossing lefty who has a very nice changeup, but questionable command. Despite his lack of velocity, he has posted nice strikeout numbers in the minors working almost exclusively as a starting pitcher. In three short stints in the majors, he has been mostly terrible thanks to his poor command and propensity for allowing homers. He has been used mostly as a starter by the Jays and could get a shot at competing for the fifth starter spot for the Angels, but he would definitely be a dark horse. More likely, Mills will be moved to the bullpen as a potential LOOGY. Whatever the case, he will face stiff competition to make the team and could end up being designated for assignment before the season. Even if that happens, this trade still looks great for the Angels, simply because Mathis is gone. Mills and any potential contribution he might make is just gravy.