Memo to anyone working in the Mariners front office: Opportunity is here.
Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates designated Ruben Mateo for assignment. Mateo was, at one time, the Texas Rangers CF of the future, but injuries derailed his development. The Reds traded for him in their push to get every toolsy outfielder in 2001, but cut him loose after last year, and he signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh over the offseason. Throughout his major league career, he’s amassed 783 at-bats, posting a .257/.311/.396 line, which is basically a replacement level outfielder.
However, this year, he looks to have made some adjustments. Pittsburgh brought him to the show after he hit .316/.391/.711 in 114 at-bats for Nashville. He proceeded to hit .242/.359/.515 in 33 at-bats for Pittsburgh before he was DFA’d today. He’s showing some patience (17 walks in 147 at-bats), a lot of power, and he can play a solid LF/RF and a passable CF. All this for the league minimum folks. It’s not a stretch to say that Ruben Mateo would instantly become our best center fielder (okay, thats Ichiro, but thats apparently not an option) and probably our 3rd or 4th best hitter. He has more value than about half the hitters on the roster, and is exactly the kind of free talent pickup this team should be looking to make. Make the call to Dave Littlefield and toss them a low level relief arm, like, say, Cesar Jimenez, to make sure no other team claims him on waivers before the M’s get a shot at him (due to the arcane league setup, all the teams in the NL get a shot before any teams in the AL).
Ruben Mateo could help this club now and become a nice role player for the future. He’s cheap and even toolsy. He fills a need, and he’s going to come at a bargain rate. Go get Ruben Mateo.