The San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics have made the first trade of this new 2020 season.
Major League Baseball teams have been busy putting together 60-man player pools and scouring the free agent market since the removal of a roster freeze put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, but leave it up to San Diego Padres general manager AJ Preller to make the first trade of the “new” 2020 season.
As first announced by ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel, the San Diego Padres have acquired minor league infielder Jorge Mateo from the Oakland A’s in exchange for a player to be named later.
We have been without baseball, trades, and roster moves for so long that even the old PTBNL trade provides a bit of buzz among the baseball community.
Mateo, 25, was ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Oakland A’s farm system, spending the last eight seasons working his way up through the minor leagues with both the New York Yankees and A’s. Oakland originally acquired Mateo as part of the return for RHP Sonny Gray back in 2017.
A three-time minor league All-Star and two-time MLB Futures Game selection, Mateo fits the mold of a flyer type option AJ Preller could have a bit of fun with.
Noted for his elite speed, raw tools, and surprising pop, Mateo exploded offensively in Triple-A last season, hitting .289 with a .330 OBP, 19 home runs, 29 doubles, 14 triples, and swiping 24 bags. He has 30 total home runs over the last two seasons.
It is important to note that those 30 home runs came in the Pacific Coast League, but Mateo still has enough pop in his bat to make him an interesting prospect.
Despite once stealing 82 bases in a minor league season and routinely piling up the extra-base hits, Mateo does struggle with consistency and patience at the plate. He struck out more than 27% of the time in 2018 and 25.6% of the time last season, both while posting a walk rate slightly above 5%.
Mateo is also out of options, but his ability to play just about anywhere on the diamond will be a valuable asset to the Padres.
Mateo’s true value could come in extra-inning games this season, should he make the Padres roster. Kiley McDaniel grades Mateo’s speed at an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, making him an elite option to have on the roster with the new extra-inning rule in place for 2020 which calls for a runner on second base to start extra frames.
At the end of the day, Jorge Mateo is a great low-cost option for the San Diego Padres as they prepare their 60-man roster pool for the 2020 season. Will it be the last move AJ Preller makes before the start of the season? Probably not.