Last week the A’s acquired catcher John Jaso from the Mariners in a three team trade. The Mariners received first basemen/outfielder Michael Morse, while the Nationals received pitching prospects A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen, and a player to be named later. With the trade the A’s had three major league catchers on the roster in Jaso, Derek Norris, and George Kottaras. Kottaras, who had just prior to the trade avoided arbitration, ended up being the odd man out and was designated for assignment. Cole is a highly touted pitching prospect and Treinen has a lot of upside so the A’s gave up a lot to land Jaso. Let’s take a look at what they now have in Jaso and how the A’s plan to use him.
Aug 21, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners catcher John Jaso (27) hits a RBI ground rule double against the Cleveland Indians during the 7th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY SportsThe left-handed hitting Jaso broke out with Seattle in 2012 finishing the season with a .276 AVG, 10 HR, 50 RBI, and an incredibly A’s-like OBP of .394 in one hundred and eight games. That on base percentage will only help with the power bats of the lineup. In 43 games behind the plate his defense was subpar. He threw out only seven of twenty seven would be base stealers. The upside is in the offense in Jaso, something A’s catchers have struggled to produce over the last couple of seasons.
The only foreseeable problem with his lack of defense is that the young pitching staff might struggle without the defense of Kottaras. A’s pitchers will need to continue to develop good pick off moves and limiting walks considering the lack of arm strength Jaso brings to the table. The less base runners the less chance to steal. While the A’s offense is improving they are still not on levels of the Angels and Rangers. Therefore their defense and pitching will need to continue to be flawless if they are to contend again next season.
The A’s as of right now plan to use Jaso as the complimentary piece to Derek Norris, just as Kottaras was. The only difference will be Jaso will see the majority of the at bats as compared to Norris. The A’s are in an enviable yet interesting position to be in with two starting caliber catchers. They could keep the platoon as planned, or continue to develop Norris and trade him in the next couple of seasons. Catching depth is a prime stock to have in baseball currently. It is the most valuable along with shortstops in the current market. This move gives the A’s a safety net if Jaso doesn’t work out or puts them in the driver seat if he continues to produce.
A’s fans have to be happy with this move considering it shows GM Billy Beane and company are in “win-now” mode. Jaso will bring above average offense to a relatively unproductive position. He not only has a decent average but he gets on base at a higher than usual clip. He has better numbers than both Norris and Kottaras. The Green and Gold’s pursuit of another AL West championship will only be helped by this addition.