Oakland Athletics: What to do with Jorge Mateo
By David Hill
When spring training starts up again, the Oakland Athletics will have to decide what they are going to do with Jorge Mateo.
At some point, spring training will begin again. When that happens, the Oakland Athletics will have a decision to make at second base. Not only have the A’s refused to name a starter at the keystone, but they also have four players vying for major league roles, either as the primary second baseman or as a bench option.
Of those four, three players seem to have a role on the roster. Tony Kemp not only has a great deal of versatility, but he was the most productive of the contenders before spring training was halted. Franklin Barreto could serve as a viable platoon partner for Kemp at second, and can also play short if needed. Vimael Machin has the advantage of being a Rule V pick, but can also play virtually anywhere on the diamond.
That leaves Jorge Mateo. The one time top prospect was considered the key piece to the trade that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees, a player whose speed was expected to make him a formidable threat at the top of the lineup.
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Instead, Mateo never quite became the player he was expected to. The one time top prospect has lost most of his luster, as his hitting never developed. He did show some signs of progress in AAA last year, producing a .289/.330/.504 batting line with 19 homers and 24 steals, but that was also with the lively ball being used in the top level of the minors.
While the production would normally lead to at least a look at the major league level, the A’s have three other options ahead of him on the second base depth chart. A possible utility role would not only be taken by Machin, but there is the spectre of super utility man Chad Pinder. Mateo, despite having not suited up in Oakland yet, simply does not have a place on the roster.
And that is the problem. Mateo is out of options, and would have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors. The idea that the A’s could lose Mateo and receive absolutely nothing back for his services is not likely to be palatable to either the front office or the fanbase.
There is the possibility that a trade could be worked out. Both the Tigers and the Royals have been reported as interested in the former prospect, making a deal possible. But, again, the A’s would be selling low, unlikely to get anything of much value in return.
Keeping Mateo is also a potentially problematic solution. If Machin is the odd man out, he would need to be offered back to the Cubs. Neither Kemp nor Barreto have any minor league options left. Unless an injury occurs, the A’s are likely to lose someone from their roster.
That someone is likely to be Jorge Mateo. Even though he has not debuted for the Oakland Athletics, his time with the franchise may be over.