Former Hudson Valley Renegades catcher John Jaso was a key piece in a three-team trade that went down Wednesday evening. Here is the basic framework of the deal for now.
To Oakland: Jaso
To Seattle: Mike Morse
To Washington: A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and a player to be named later
We’ll start with Jaso. A junior college player from northern California, Jaso was drafted by the Rays in 2003 and played for the Renegades in 2003 and 2004. He climbed his way through the Rays’ system, landing in the bigs for good in 2010. He’s a catcher who drew some notoriety for being used as a leadoff hitter by Rays manager Joe Maddon. Jaso is a big on-base guy and a bit light in the power department. Jaso was traded to Seattle for pitcher Josh Leuke in Nov. 2011 and he hit .276 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI and a .394 OBP in 108 games with Seattle last year.
I caught up with Jaso at Yankee Stadium in July of 2011 and asked him about the time he spent in Fishkill. Click here for that story.
Oakland has its catcher of the future in Derek Norris – acquired from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez deal – but Jaso could allow Norris to start the season at Triple-A. Jaso is the prototypical Moneyball-type of player that Oakland likes. He could even be a fit at DH.
Seattle will get Mike Morse, who didn’t have a place to play in a crowded Nationals lineup. Morse, 30, has only played one full season at the major league level, but it was a good one. Hit hit .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 2011 for the Nationals, but has been hampered by injuries for most of his career. Morse is pretty much limited to the corner outfield spots, first base or DH – all positions at which the Mariners already have a surplus.
Morse, who began his career as a shortstop in the Seattle system, could be a steal if he repeats that 2011 season. Still, he’s done that once in his entire career and he’s already entering his 30-something years, which is when players generally lose bat speed. The Yankees had been rumored to be in the Morse sweepstakes, but they just didn’t have or didn’t want to part with what Washington was looking for in return.
Washington reacquires A.J. Cole, who the Nationals had originally drafted and then traded to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal. Cole, a fourth round pick in 2010, is 10-17 with a 3.82 ERA in 45 minor league starts, all at the Single-A level or lower. He was Baseball America’s No. 57 prospect prior to the 2012 season. Those totals are skewed by a dreadful second half of 2012 for Cole, who was 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA after being promoted to High-A Stockton of the California League. Cole is years away from the big leagues – if he makes it at all – but does help restock what’s become a thin farm system at the lower levels.
Blake Treinen was picked in the seventh round of the 2011 draft by Oakland. The right-handed pitcher is 8-8 with a 4.13 ERA in 45 minor league appearances – 15 of which were starts – all at the High-A level or lower.
Which team won the trade? It’s too early to tell – especially on the Cole front – but Oakland probably gets the biggest boost in 2013 unless Morse plays like the 2011 version of himself. Seattle will also have to rely on former Yankees farmhand Jesus Montero as an everyday catcher, something that remains a risky proposition for the Mariners. Seattle, with a surplus of corner outfield, first base and DH types, could also make another trade in the near future to clear up some playing time issues before spring training.
Your thoughts? Did the Yankees swing and miss by passing on Morse? Did Oakland win the trade? Let me know what you think on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.