John Jaso Will Add To His Versatility This Offseason
After playing primarily first base, minus a few emergency innings in right field, John Jaso will look to become more versatile this offseason.
In December of 2015 the Pittsburgh Pirates signed John Jaso to a two-year contract. The intent of Jaso’s contract was for him to start at first base against right-handed pitching and bat lead off until Josh Bell was Major League ready. Well, Bell’s time has arrived.
Once Josh Bell started to play regularly in the Major Leagues John Jaso watched as his playing time diminished. However, Jaso still brings value to the Pirates as a bench bat. As I wrote about last week, Jaso had settled in nicely as a pinch hitter for the Bucs.
Furthermore, Jaso saw his offensive numbers improve as he started seeing less regular playing time. There are a lot of Major League hitters who do better in a limited role because it avoids them from being overexposed to the league. And it appears that Jaso is one of these hitters.
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John Jaso finished the 2016 season with a .268/.353/.413/.766 slash line, 10.4 percent walk rate, 17.1 percent strikeout rate, a .335 wOBA, 111 wRC+, and a WAR of 0.7. All of these numbers rate as above league average numbers.
Jaso was especially effective against right-handed pitching. Against right-handed pitching Jaso slashed .281/.361/.433/.794 with a 10.1 percent walk rate, 16.5 percent strikeout rate, a .346 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 118. Jaso should be a strong left-handed bat off the bench for the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates.
One thing that hurts Jaso though is his positional flexibility, or lack thereof. As I mentioned above, minus a few emergency innings in right field, Jaso only played first base for the Pirates this season. In his career the only other position he has played is catcher. And he can no longer catch due to concussion issues. However, Jaso will look to change that this offseason.
We learned yesterday that Jaso will look to learn a few new positions this offseason. Clint Hurdle said he will look to learn the corner outfield spots and third base during the offseason. Obviously, this would make Jaso more versatile and more valuable to the Pirates.
The fact Jaso will look to learn these positions this offseason also tells me something else. It leads me to believe that the Pirates will not be actively shopping him this offseason. Due to David Freese‘s contract extension and the emergence of Josh Bell some believed this would be the case.
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It is still possible that the Pirates trade John Jaso this offseason. However, I do not believe they will be actively shopping him. I believe that Jaso will be part of a strong Pirate bench in 2017. And Jaso adding the corner outfield positions and third base to his repertoire will just add to his value.