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A’s Acquire Jaso in Three-Way Trade With M’s and Nats

January 16, 2013

The A’s have acquired catcher John Jaso as a part of a three-team trade with the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals.  The full deal saw Michael Morse go from our nation’s capital to the Pacific Northwest. Jaso came from Seattle down the coast to Oakland, and the A’s sent A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and a player to be named later to DC. Just yesterday, I was lamenting that the A’s catching depth was of concern to me when I wrote,

“That said, the entire catching situation is a bit concerning entering the season due to the limited exposure [Derek] Norris has had, [George] Kottaras’ lack of consistency, and the very big lack of options beyond those two.”

The A’s – sort of – addressed that deficiency today by acquiring Jaso. Jaso is a far superior baseball player to Kottaras and has far more experience than does the young Norris. Last season, Jaso posted an incredible 143 wRC+ in his 361 plate appearances with the M’s to go with a .372 wOBA. Jaso strikes out (14.1%) less often than he walks (15.5%) and last year had a bit of pop with ten home runs. All said and done he was worth 2.7 WAR to go with his .276/.394/.456 slash line. He had a .298 BABIP so despite a career year, there isn’t need to be concerned for a big regression. The 29-year-old is projected to earn $1.7M in arbitration and is under team control through 2015. I am very happy to have added Jaso. He is the exact type of ballplayer I want on this team and this year he is a clear improvement over Norris – I exclude Kottaras because following this move, despite it being mere hours after he avoided arbitration, he was designated for assignment which I will discuss more later. That all said, we gave up an awful lot to get him.

The A’s sent Cole, Treinen and a player to be named later to Washington. Was that how much Jaso was worth? Were the M’s, stockpiled with catchers really getting tons of offers on him? Cole, who came over to the A’s with Tommy Milone, the aforementioned Norris and Brad Peacock in the Gio Gonzalez deal was ranked the third best prospect for the A’s by Baseball America for 2013 and by John Sickels of Minor League BallCole had a miserable year with the Stockton Ports throwing 38 innings of 7.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 1.7 HR/9 for an ugly 7.82 ERA and 4.99 FIP. He also lost seven of his eight starts for an 0-7 record. His BABIP was ridiculously high at .405 but he didn’t do himself any favors either. The Cal League may be known for home runs, but his home run totals were absurd. With that the A’s shipped him back down to Burlington to work out his issues and there he righted his ship posting a 2.07 ERA and 2.74 FIP with 9.6 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 in 95 2/3 innings. If it were just Cole alone, one could argue that this is an overpay. It was just one year ago that Jaso was acquired by Seattle from Tampa Bay in exchange only for the services of public relations nightmare and rapist Josh Lueke. Despite 2012 being a breakout year for Jaso, he has already one 2.5 WAR season to his name (2010) so it isn’t like his 2.7 WAR season in 2012 was so far off the charts for him and out of the realm of possibility.

On top of Cole however, Billy Beane also sent the Nats Treinen who I had the opportunity to see pitch with the Ports. Treinen is big and tall and had a solid year with Stockton putting up 8.0 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 in 103 innings for a 4.37 ERA and 3.59 FIP. While not a top-flight prospect, he seemed to me at least an A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily type who could quickly ascend the organizational ladder with the right stroke of luck. If it were just Treinen for Jaso, I’d love the deal as the A’s would be stealing him away. But to send a top prospect in Cole and a fringe prospect with upside in Treinen and a player to be named later, it just seems the A’s may have sent away too much. Of course, many prospects fail and both Cole and Treinen have both have yet to ascend higher than High-A ball so much can go wrong and they could be forgotten to history.

Then on top of it, the A’s did nothing to address their shortage of quality catching. There is a saying that you can never have enough catchers and the A’s by designating Kottaras for assignment believe that they do. I’d have rather seen Jesse Chavez cut loose, so that the A’s could keep three catchers on the 40-man roster with options still remaining for Norris to be shipped to Sacramento should he falter. All in all, a mixed bag for Oakland with this deal.

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