The Padres acquired the speedy Jorge Mateo on Tuesday, and they are reportedly going to try him in centerfield. What implications does that have on the roster?
On Tuesday, the Padres made an underrated acquisition in speedster, Jorge Mateo. The 25-year-old was out of options with the Athletics, and due to a crowded infield, it made sense for the team to part ways with him. To the Padres’ benefit, he can be utilized in many ways, potentially at his natural position at second base.
However, according to Fangraphs, Mateo is going to be placed in centerfield.
"“It seemed logical to conclude that Mateo’s acquisition was partially driven by 2B/DH Brian Dozier opting out of the season, and that Mateo might be in the Padres second base mix going into camp, but a source close to the trade tells me San Diego is going to try Mateo in center field.”"
Second base appears to be Jurickson Profar‘s job to lose, but there could be some playing time there if he struggles. But Mateo’s speed can also be a valuable asset in centerfield, covering more ground than anyone else on the roster. He’s played just 29 games at the position throughout the minors – all when he was with the Yankees – but has a .986 fielding percentage, and as expected, logged above-average range factors.
If the Padres stick him in center at any capacity, that likely means Trent Grisham shifts over to left field, and Tommy Pham is your regular designated hitter for 2020. But does that also mean Pham’s elbow is not fully healed? The same elbow that held up the trade back in December and caused Pham to post a season-low .393 slugging percentage in September.
We’ll likely find out more information when Summer Camp officially opens, but Mateo could end up having a larger role than initially expected. But making him a regular in the outfield could potentially mean reduced playing time for guys like Franchy Cordero, Taylor Trammell, and others.