In the final hours prior to the 40 man roster deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, the Milwaukee Brewers added a new player to the organization.
Mathias was Rule 5 eligible this winter and apparently the Indians did not feel he was worthy of making their 40 man roster, but didn’t want to lose him for basically nothing. Brewers GM David Stearns was surely happy to oblige Cleveland’s GM Mike Chernoff in taking a versatile utility infielder off his hands for a modest price.
Who Is Mark Mathias?
This is the question most Brewers fans are asking themselves. Who is this guy? Mathias, 25, spent the 2019 season in Triple-A Columbus, playing in 115 games and posting a .797 OPS. He finished with a .269/.355/.442 slash line with 12 home runs, 31 doubles, and 13 stolen bases. He drew 51 walks with 91 strikeouts.
Mathias split his time at third base and second base in 2019, while spending the bulk of his time at second base in 2018. While not considered a shortstop prospect, Mathias has spent more than 200 innings at shortstop in the minors, including 27 innings in 2019.
He was immediately added to the 40 man roster, which protects him from the Rule 5 Draft and places him firmly in the mix for playing time in 2020.
What Did The Brewers Give Up?
Catcher Andres Melendez goes to the Indians in return. Melendez, 18, spent the 2019 season in the Arizona Rookie League, posting a .250/.340/.352 slash line with a 12.5% walk rate.
While there may be some upside with Melendez, and he is quite young, he’s a long ways away from the major leagues and this move doesn’t exactly eat away at the future for the Crew.
It’s a rookie ball lottery ticket that could, maybe one day, turn into a big league player. In return, the Brewers get a solid utility infielder that could get some good playing time in 2020 and may even get a regular share of third base duties if Mike Moustakas doesn’t return or Travis Shaw continues to struggle.
The Brewers clearly see something they like in Mathias, and with their utility infield spot open, he’s now an obvious candidate for that position. He’ll likely have to battle for it in spring training.