The Pirates and Angels engaged in serious talks earlier this season about a trade that would have sent outfielder/first baseman Garrett Jones to Anaheim and catcher Jeff Mathis to Pittsburgh, major league sources told FOXSports.com.
The discussions fell apart after Pirates officials decided they couldn’t part with Jones’ power bat. Jones hit nine home runs in the first half, second on the team behind All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Although they didn’t come to fruition, the talks reflect how seriously each team is pursuing improvements for a primary area of need.
The Pirates, with Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder on the disabled list, would like to upgrade their catching. They’re currently using a tandem of Michael McKenry and Eric Fryer, neither of whom is considered a big league starter. But as the San Francisco Giants have learned following Buster Posey’s season-ending injury, quality catching is hard to find on the midseason trade market. (Mathis, for example, has a career batting average of .199.)
The Angels, meanwhile, are interested in a left-handed power hitter who could complement rookie Mark Trumbo at first base and fill in at designated hitter and the outfield. The Angels hoped veteran Russell Branyan could fill that role, but he has a meager .522 OPS in 21 games with the team.
The Angels have the worst OPS against right-handed pitching (.705) of any American League club with a winning record, which highlights their need for increased production from the left side. Vernon Wells, the former All-Star outfielder, batted below .200 against right-handers during the first half.
— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal