A little more on Mateo

No one is handing a job in 2022 to the batch of Orioles in-house infield candidates beyond first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, which pretty much makes for a typical offseason in the rebuild.

I’m confident that they’ll sign at least one free agent, and perhaps to a major league deal. They could make another waiver claim, as they did with second baseman Yolmer Sánchez.

Perhaps this time they’ll keep him beyond spring training.

I’ve made Ramón Urías a heavy favorite to stay with the Orioles in a starting or reserve role. Having him as a backup at three infield positions seems like the least they can do. He certainly is an option to start at shortstop or second base.

It depends on who arrives from outside the organization.

It also depends on what the Orioles do with Jorge Mateo, Jahmai Jones, Richie Martin and Pat Valaika - the latter eligible again for arbitration and sitting on the 40-man bubble.

Mateo-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgMateo lost valuable audition starts due to right lumbar inflammation that put him on the 60-day injured list. He appeared in 32 games after the Orioles claimed the three-time top 100 prospect from the Padres. He made 15 starts at short and 12 at second base, and also started once in left and right field.

No one else on the team can beat him in the 40-yard dash, but you can’t steal first base. I checked the rules.

The Orioles gave Mateo opportunities that were lacking in other organizations and he responded by batting .280/.328/.421 with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight RBIs and five stolen bases in eight attempts. And he was slowed by the injury.

Mateo is out of minor league options, so the Orioles will give him every chance to make the club. Passing him through waivers and attempting to outright him could be difficult because the speed tool and a plus arm, along with his former prospect status, figure to draw interest.

He’s going to be one of the more interesting players at spring training. If he’s able to make the club and in what capacity. And what kind of competition awaits him.

“That was a really disappointing injury because he was really fun to watch improving,” manager Brandon Hyde said during the final homestand.

“I’m excited about him going forward. I think he’s got big-time ability. He’s got rare tools in that he does a lot of things that a lot of guys can’t do on the baseball field from a speed factor. He’s got power, he can play both spots in the middle, he can play the outfield. So, I was really looking forward to watching him play through September, but unfortunately his season got cut short.”

Hyde also said he thinks Mateo can be “a fit” no matter what the Orioles do in the offseason.

They aren’t going to work around him. He can adapt to whatever situation is created from the outside acquisitions or in-house maneuvering.

“Mateo’s in that discussion if we put this guy at short, put this guy at second, whatever it may be,” Hyde said. “Mateo’s in the discussion there.”

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