Padres right-hander Marcos Mateo took a physical for the Hanshin Tigers of Japana’s Nippon Professional Baseball today, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (links to Twitter). If everything checks out, Mateo will likely sign a contract with Hanshin, who would presumably send cash to the Padres in exchange for releasing Mateo, Lin adds.
Mateo, a former Cubs prospect, saw 44 2/3 innings with Chicago from 2010-11 and didn’t play in the Major Leagues until last season with the Padres. With San Diego, Mateo pitched 27 innings with a 4.00 ERA and 33 strikeouts against eight unintentional walks. Over the past three years between Triple-A, the Dominican Winter League and the Padres, Mateo has been outstanding, averaging well over 10 strikeouts per nine innings and yielding a combined 2.53 ERA across that variety of leagues. Mateo is primarily a fly-ball pitcher — 34.8 percent ground-ball rate in 2015 — that averaged 94.2 mph on his fastball during his most recent stint with the Padres.
Subtracting Mateo from the roster will thin out what currently projects to be a crowded bullpen scene, particularly in terms of right-handed pitchers. In addition to Mateo, San Diego has righties Odrisamer Despaigne, Kevin Quackenbush, Nick Vincent, Brandon Maurer, Cesar Vargas, Cory Mazzoni and Jon Edwards. The club also has three right-handers — Luis Perdomo, Blake Smith and Josh Martin — that it selected in the Rule 5 Draft. While each might be an unlikely candidate to stick with the Padres, they’ll be in camp competing for jobs nonetheless, and if one name particularly intrigues the Padres, they’ll have to keep him on the roster or risk losing him to waivers before offering him back to his former team.