Athletics Need Pitching Depth, John Jaso Could be on the Move


Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

It has become evident that the duo of Dan Straily and Tommy Milone are not to be trusted to propel the A’s to victory. In games not started by Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir or Jesse Chavez, the Athletics are 2-10 (Including the spot start by Josh Lindblom). If Oakland continues playing like they are, the 16-2 record boasted by the A’s in which their top 3 starters pitch may be enough to make the playoffs, but without a reliable 4th starter, they could be facing an early exit in October yet again.

It has been rumored that John Jaso could be used as trade bait to lure starting pitching Oakland’s way. SF Chronicle’s Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) wrote in here Drumbeat for Saturday,

"The A’s, with their depth and versatility, could move half of a platoon, say someone such as catcher John Jaso, especially given how well Derek Norris has been playing."

This would make a ton of sense from an Athletics standpoint. John Jaso is an OBP machine with some pop. The A’s also have Stephen Vogt in the minors that could take his spot.

While Jaso is a solid offensive commodity, his defense can be lacking. This could ultimately hurt his trade value. There are a couple teams that Jaso would be considered a definite upgrade over their current catching options, who also have pitching.

The first team that comes to mind is the New York Mets, currently employing former Athletic Anthony Recker in a timeshare with young prospect Travis d’Arnaud. Recker could easily be pushed aside for Jaso, and he could also help Bartolo Colon get back on track after a sloppy start to 2014. The holdup with the Mets is that the pitching surplus they have is meant to propel them in the coming years. It is doubtful that they would part with one of their young arms, even Zach Wheeler who is currently holding a 5.13 ERA.

The other team that comes to mind is the Atlanta Braves. They currently host a trio of catchers splitting time. Of those 3, Gerald Laird has the highest OBP at .333 in 27 ABs. Evan Gattis is getting the bulk of the work behind home plate, and while he has 7 HRs and 14 RBI, he’s batting just .268 with a .294 OBP. The Braves offense is also struggling to score runs at the moment. The problem with the Atlanta as a trade partner is that they also have had two pitchers go down to Tommy John surgery. Their rotation is now set with Mike Minor returning this past week, which relegated David Hale to the long-relief role. Given the amount of injuries the team has endured, it is doubtful that Hale would be on the table in trade talks, but he would definitely be worth a call.

Trading John Jaso for a starter that would slot 4th or 5th in the rotation should be relatively easy, but there is one more thing to consider. Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez haven’t pitched full seasons in the majors yet. Will their arms hold up with the amount of work they are due to receive as the season progresses? The A’s may need to couple John Jaso with a prospect and land someone worthy of at least a #3 spot in the rotation to compensate for this scenario.

It is probable that Drew Pomeranz will get a crack at the rotation by June 1 if Milone and Straily continue to struggle. The addition of Pomeranz alone could be enough to strengthen the rotation, with no trades necessary. It is more likely that Billy Beane will pull the trigger on a trade involving John Jaso to acquire depth and leave nothing to chance. All we have to do now is wait until teams start falling from contention.