The San Diego Padres acquired Jorge Mateo from the Oakland A’s on Tuesday.
When the 2020 MLB season shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it also came with a transaction freeze restricting teams from releasing or trading players.
Said transaction freeze was lifted on Friday, June 26. Less than a week later, the first trade came through.
To nobody’s surprise, it came courtesy of AJ Preller, the GM who eschews sleep in favor of making deals.
On June 30, the San Diego Padres swung a trade with the Oakland Athletics for minor league prospect Jorge Mateo. Oakland will be receiving a player to be named later to complete the deal.
Here’s how you know baseball is back: We’ve got a trade — and a player to be named later!
The San Diego Padres are acquiring middle infielder Jorge Mateo from the Oakland A’s for a PTBNL, sources tell me and @kileymcd.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 30, 2020
Mateo, the seventh overall prospect in Oakland’s system, according to MLB Pipeline, has been traded before. In 2017, Mateo, then a member of the New York Yankees, was traded alongside fellow prospects Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian for A’s pitcher Sonny Gray.
After a rough 2018 season saw him bat .230/.280/.353 with a wRC+ of 62, Mateo put all of that behind him by hitting .289/.330/.504 with a 96 wRC+.
However, the 25-year-old’s best asset is his blazing speed. Mateo swiped 24 bags in 35 chances last year in Triple-A Las Vegas and, in 2015, stole 82 bags across two levels of the minor leagues.
While he has a surprising amount of pop at the plate with a .214 ISO and 19 home runs in 2019, it comes with a propensity to swing-and-miss. Mateo struck out at a 25.6% clip last year while posting a 5.1 BB% last year.
Mateo is out of options, however, so he will have to make San Diego’s 30-man Opening Day roster or be released. Perhaps this was the reason that Oakland made him available in the first place, and why Preller was able to pick him up.
If he does make the roster, a player with his level of speed can be used as a pinch-runner, especially in the condition of an extra-inning game. With MLB’s new rule stating a runner must be placed on second base at the start of extra innings, a player of Mateo’s caliber can decide whether or not a game is won or lost.