Even before the shortened 2020 MLB season has begun, the first trade has been made. On Tuesday, the Oakland Athletics dealt infielder Jorge Mateo to the San Diego Padres in exchange for a player to be named later.
Mateo, a once-highly touted prospect, was the centerpiece in the New York Yankees trade for Sonny Gray. Since then, he has struggled to find his footing with the A’s. Mateo repeated his stay in Triple A last season and improved his numbers a bit, slashing .289/.330/.834 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He posted a career-high in home runs with 19 and also stole 24 bases.
Mateo profiles as a middle infielder and if he makes it onto the Padres roster for the upcoming season, he will likely be looking at playing second base with Fernando Tatis Jr. holding down shortstop.
Mateo may still be figuring it out at the plate, as he boasts a 25.6% strikeout rate and only a 96 wRC+; below the league average. One aspect that will play to his favor is his 80 grade speed. The extra inning man on second rule was practically made for a player like Mateo. He will likely find his way on the Padres roster due to his speed being such an asset in a shortened season.
This is another savvy trade by the Padres front office, buying low on another middle infielder who happens to be a former top prospect. This comes after swinging a deal for Jurickson Profar earlier in the offseason. Mateo could hit his stride and become the five-tool leadoff man of the future for the Padres if he hits his ceiling. Even at his floor, Mateo will be a terror on the base paths for opposing pitchers this season.