Where Does Butler Signing Leave John Jaso?

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The Athletics agreed to a 3-year, $30 million contract with first-baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler on Tuesday. Butler will most likely be an everyday fixture in the A’s 2015 lineup.

With a healthy Brandon Moss deserving everyday playing time, and Stephen Vogt getting into the mix against righties, the A’s seem pretty set with their first basemen and designated hitters.

So what will happen to John Jaso? As Tony and I discussed on our podcast, I don’t think he’s ever playing catcher again, after catching just 54 games last year. His recurring concussion issues, and overall lack of defensive ability behind the plate basically set him up for DH duty for the rest of his career.

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That’s not to say that he can’t be a productive offensive player. The 31-year old has a respectable .259/.359/.399 slash line for his career, and a .793 career OPS against righties is very solid as well.

Therefore, a potential platoon could be in play, but I don’t see the A’s using Butler as a platoon player. He’s been pretty good against them for his career, hitting .288 with 78 home runs.

So for now, it appears as if Jaso doesn’t have a home on the 2015 roster. He’s entering his final year of arbitration, so he’ll be a free agent after next season, making him an interesting trade chip for the A’s. Some AL teams looking for a left-handed DH who can get on base should be intrigued by his skill set.

If Nelson Cruz doesn’t re-sign, the Orioles would be an interesting fit. Also, the Royals just lost their DH, so a potential trade could be in the works there as well.

But what should the A’s ask for in return? Obviously the middle infield situation needs to be resolved, but I don’t think the best method for that is via trade. Top prospect Daniel Robertson should be major league ready in a year or two, so finding a stop-gap solution through free agency is probably the best way to go.

Billy Beane should probably look to acquire some young depth through a potential Jaso trade, maybe at pitcher or in the outfield. Not necessarily a young superstar in the making, but maybe just a solid future role-player. Jaso is talented, but he won’t command an incredible prospect package by himself.

The big idea that Beane should look for is team control. Finding a player (or players) who will be under team control for the next four or five years is key. That’s what the A’s do best — deal players before their deals expire for young players under team control.
The offseason is still very young, and a big trade or two could change the entire outlook for 2015, but for now it seems like John Jaso doesn’t fit into the A’s plans next year.

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