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Royals, Tigers inquired about Jorge Mateo per report, overall interest “tepid”

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Oakland Athletics Photo Day
Jorge, looking at the bat harder won’t make it magically generate more dingers
Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Editor note: With AN writers on an article limit, staff lacks the capacity to post breaking news threads. So I decided I’d try my hand at posting one. - CB

Buried in an article about the Sonny Gray trade, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic noted on Friday that both the Royals and Tigers have “shown interest” in Jorge Mateo this offseason. Additionally, one A’s source told Rosenthal overall interest was “tepid”. If you lack access to the Athletic, here’s the MLBTradeRumors article about the news.

Regular followers of the A’s know why this could be important news. Oakland doesn’t have an established 2B as they head into a season expecting to compete for the AL West pennant. Four infielders are in camp this spring competing for the role:

  • Franklin Barreto, A’s prospect, out-of-options
  • Jorge Mateo, A’s prospect, out-of-options
  • Vimel Machin, Rule V pick
  • Tony Kemp, utility IF, out-of-options

Notably, none of these players can be assigned to the minor leagues without either being exposed to waivers (Barreto, Mateo, Kemp) or, in the case of Machin, sent back to his original team - the Cubs.

Nico took a fresh look at the 2B battle on Saturday and concluded that, with the injury to Stephen Piscotty, the A’s right now are likely looking to keep only two of Barreto/Mateo/Kemp/Machin.

Knowing about the impending roster crunch, A’s fans have been wondering all off-season if the logjam might be solved by trading away the middle-infielder excess for assets that don’t expire March 26th. The A’s already made one such trade this offseason, sending underperforming MIF Jurikson Profar to the Padres for catching prospect Austin Allen.

To my knowledge, this is the first time this offseason there’s been rumors of a potential Barreto or Mateo trade.

Fans of a franchise famed for Moneyball know the importance of value, and losing a potentially valuable asset to waivers is not in this club’s DNA. The question is - how valuable are Mateo and Barreto?

As one way to get a general look at value, we can turn to the Baseball Trade Values Oakland projections. Here’s a look at the trade value levels similar to Barreto and Mateo among A’s players:

  • Sheldon Neuse: 6.2
  • Nick Allen: 5.7
  • Jake Diekman: 5.1
  • Jorge Mateo: 4.3
  • Austin Allen: 4.1
  • Franklin Barreto: 4.1
  • Lazaro Armenteros: 3.0
  • James Kaprelian: 2.9

Of course, there’s the old adage, a product is only worth what someone’s willing to pay.

We must ask ourselves, if Barreto or Mateo had shown us more, they’d surely be favorites for the starting 2B job? The fact that Kemp and Machin are here and being seriously considered for roster spots tells us something about the A’s own valuation of their former top prospects. If Oakland’s own coaches and managers aren’t expressing much hope for Barreto and Mateo, why should other clubs be expected to pay much for them?

If you do want to flex your trade scenario muscles with this news, one good place to start research would be to read up on the reactions of Tigers and Royals fans. The SBNation sites for both teams have articles up about Mateo as a trade target. Here are the links to those posts:

Royals: Royals have reportedly shown interest in Athletics infielder Jorge Mateo

Tigers: Tigers interested in Athletics IF Jorge Mateo, per report

As a final thought - for all the fretting we’ve done concerning second base, at the end of the day it’s just one position. This season is going to be about the talented young pitching staff (Sean Manaea is arguably the 4th best SP on this squad, that’s insane). It’s going to be about the offense continuing to dominate. Can Khris Davis return to form? Can Sean Murphy stay healthy? This team won 97 games with Jurikson Profar at 2B last year. And if 2B is that bad or worse in 2020, there’s always the trade deadline.

Plus, if we’re really in a bind, we did keep Adam Rosales nearby... Nov 5th, 2019: Athletics Hire Adam Rosales As Minor League Coach