Recently acquired infielder Jorge Mateo tested positive for COVID-19 at intake testing, Padres manager Jayce Tingler revealed to reporters in a Zoom call today (Twitter link via Dennis Lin of The Athletic). He’s been dealing with mild symptoms, including loss of smell and taste. Mateo, acquired from the Athletics last week in exchange for a player to be named later, has not been to Petco Park and has been isolating since his test result. Once he tests negative on two occasions, at least 24 hours apart, he’ll be cleared to join his new club.
It’s an unfortunate start to Mateo’s tenure with the Padres, though it’s encouraging to hear Tingler relay that the 25-year-old is already beginning to feel a bit better. If he’s able to make a full recovery in time for the season opener, Mateo is likely to land on the Padres’ Opening Day roster. He’s out of minor league options and, if healthy, can’t be sent down to the team’s alternative training site without being exposed to waivers.
Mateo’s trade came before intake testing had begun, so there’s no way the A’s could’ve been reasonably expected to know about it (if he was even positive at the time of the deal), but the trade nevertheless underscores the importance of prompt turnaround time on testing. Delays have been prominent this week, even as MLB has sought to downplay them, and one can only imagine the complications that would arise were a player to test positive in-season immediately after being moved to a new club. Trade volume in general could be down this year given the unprecedented circumstances under which front offices are operating, but having as close to a real-time indicator of a player’s health as possible will be imperative for transactions to be allowed.
That’s not to sound callous; minimizing health risks for all players, coaches, staff and their families is of course the primary reason that tests need to be processed in expeditious fashion. But if roster movement is to be allowed, as is currently planned, the types of delays we’ve seen this week will need to be smoothed out in order to provide for the orderly execution of the season.