Mateo has spent the past season-plus in San Diego, tallying his first 121 MLB plate appearances in the process. He’s only managed a .195/.235/.310 line with two home runs in that time, but Mateo’s also never had the benefit of regular playing time on a win-now Padres club. However, because Mateo is out of minor league options, San Diego had to keep him on the active roster or else risk losing his long-term rights. That left the 26-year-old as a sort of designated bench piece, with most of his time coming as a pinch hitter, pinch runner or late-game defensive replacement (primarily in the outfield).
As with the Padres, the O’s have to keep Mateo on the big league roster or risk losing him on waivers themselves. Mateo ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects at Baseball America for three consecutive seasons (2016-18) thanks to his blistering speed and decent raw power. There’s plenty more opportunity for the rebuilding Orioles to give him a regular look against big league pitching if they’re so inclined. If Mateo earns a permanent spot on the roster, he can be controlled through 2025.
Valaika has spent the past two seasons in Baltimore. He broke into the majors with the Rockies, briefly landed with the Diamondbacks, but wound up with the Orioles on waivers. Valaika performed well in a brief look in 2020 (.277/.315/.475 over 150 plate appearances) but he hasn’t followed up on that this season. The 28-year-old has tallied 212 trips to the dish this year and managed just a .192/.251/.280 line with four homers.
Baltimore will place Valaika on waivers in the coming days. Should he pass through unclaimed, he’d have the right to reject a minor league assignment by virtue of the fact that he’s previously been outrighted in his career.