- Rating: 1.97
- Age: will be 28 before 2022 Opening Day
- 2021 Stats: 51 PA, .119/.255/.190 = .445 OPS, 24 OPS+, -0.2 WAR
- 2021 Earnings: $563,500 (league minimum)
- 2022 Status: On San Francisco Giants 40-man roster
Back in 2018, the D-Backs took a flyer on Wyatt Mathisen after Pittsburgh declined to retain him. The Pirates’ decision followed an adjusted swing that he hoped would increase his power, but it failed to materialize much of the potential laid upon him. Drafted all the way back in 2012 out of Calallen High School (Texas), the second-rounder was very highly touted in a talented Pirates’ farm system, including a #6 ranking in 2013.
Mathisen quickly realized some of the potential that had always flashed underneath in 2019 at Reno where he posted a .288/.412/.592 slash line, an OPS just north of 1.000, and some of the quality infield utility play he had become accustomed to providing. As Jim put it at the time, Mathisen finally made his MLB debut in early September of 2020 after “more than eight years and over 2,500 minor-league plate appearances after having been drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2012 draft.” Unfortunately, his few “cups of coffee” in 2020 only resulted in a .222/.364/.444 slash, but were evidently enough to earn him protection from the Rule 5 draft last year.
Which finally brings us to 2021 and the hope that he would finally put it all together after a unique 2020 (for all of us). Prophetically, DBacks in Europe wrote in Mathisen’s 2020 review that 2021 was going to be a make or break year for him.
Answer: Welp, it certainly wasn’t made.
After all the positive momentum of the previous two seasons, Mathisen began the year with the big league club and quickly scuffled to a .139/.289/.222 slash line by the end of April, including his one and only home-run (above). The sole saving grace was solid defense and extreme flexibility as he appeared as a pinch hitter, left fielder, first baseman, and third baseman throughout the month. But even that wasn’t enough to keep him with the big league club long-term as he was DFA’d in early May before being traded to Tampa Bay for cash considerations and ending his time with the D-Backs.
Following the trade, Mathisen posted productive numbers for Triple-A Durham, batting .288/.344/.525 with three homers and five doubles, but was subsequently DFA’d to make room for AL-ROY finalist Wander Franco. He was again traded for cash considerations to the Mariners where his batting production cratered at Triple-A Tacoma - to the tune of .137/.310/.225 in 129 plate appearances. This unexpected turn led to his release at the end of August before the Giants swooped in with a minor-league contract.
Overall, Mathisen struggled at the plate - failing to get a single multi-hit game in his time with the D-Backs and especially being tormented by offspeed and breaking pitches. He had an abysmal .060 XBA on them across his 51 plate appearances and combined with a decrease in power and ability to get on base, made it difficult for the D-Backs to justify Mathisen retaining his roster spot. Even further, with the emergence of Josh Rojas and a full, painful rebuild in the works, it made little sense to hold onto him in the system. Still, Fangraphs states that he holds on to two more additional minor league options, a track record of performing at the Triple-A level, and extreme positional flexibility. So the Giants may still be able to salvage production out of him - especially with their penchant for polishing rough diamonds.
I wish him all the best in his continued tour around MLB.
Tease for next player: Another utility player who may be a piece of the larger puzzle. Stick around to find out...same bat time, same bat channel!