John Jaso Rumors
The Angels have hired Omar Vizquel as a roving infield instructor in their organization, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (Twitter link). Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, said last summer that he was hoping to get into coaching or managing once he retired from playing. Vizquel hung up the cleats after a 24-year career that saw him amass 2877 career hits, good for 40th on the all-time list.
Here's the latest from around the AL West...
- Athletics GM Billy Beane tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the A's have no interest in trading Brandon Moss. Cafardo opines that Moss' left-handed bat and his ability to play both first and the outfield makes him an "ideal" fit for the Red Sox.
- The Mariners didn't find much interest in John Jaso at the trade deadline last summer and shopped the catcher for much of the offseason, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The M's attempted to deal Jaso to the Pirates in exchange for Garrett Jones and explored sending the catcher to Arizona as part of a possible Justin Upton trade before finally sending Jaso to the Athletics as part of a three-way deal with the Nationals.
- Also from Baker, he opines that the Mariners have the money and the minor league depth to afford signing Michael Bourn and withstand losing the #12 overall draft pick as compensation.
- The Angels' minor league system projects as one of the worst in the game and MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez looks at how it happened, including such factors as the team's lack of international scouting and lackluster 2010 draft. One bright side for L.A. is that their farm system is currently shallow because so many homegrown prospects have made their way to the Angels' big league roster.
- The Astros are approaching their rebuild in the right way, writes Jeff Moore of The Hardball Times, by off-loading all veteran talent from their Major League roster and adding much-needed depth to their farm system.
- In division news from earlier today, the Mariners reached an agreement with Kelly Shoppach, the Angels avoided arbitration with Kevin Jepsen and we posted a collection of Rangers notes.
The latest from ESPN.com's Buster Olney...
- If the Mariners’ attempt to acquire Justin Upton had been successful, Seattle would have traded John Jaso to Oakland as part of the deal, Olney reports (on Twitter). Instead, Upton blocked the proposed trade and the A's acquired Jaso in a three-way trade with Washington.
- The Diamondbacks continue to weigh offers for Upton and Jason Kubel, Olney reports (Twitter links). The Diamondbacks want to deal one of the outfielders sooner rather than later and they feel as though there’s a good chance of getting “suitable value” for Kubel if they decide to deal him.
- Rival executives view the Orioles as a possible match for Kubel, Olney reports (Twitter links). In Olney's view the Rays are another potential destination for Kubel.
- The 2002 Braves and the 1995 Indians had some of the best outfields in baseball history, Olney wrote at his Insider-only blog today.
7:46pm: Jaso's deal is worth $1.8MM, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).
6:24pm: The A’s announced that they have agreed to terms with catcher John Jaso and outfielder Seth Smith on one-year contracts for the 2013 season. Terms of the deals are not yet known. Jaso is a client of ACES while Smith is represented by Aegis Sports Management.
Oakland acquired Jaso just yesterday from the Mariners in the three-team deal that sent Mike Morse to Seattle. The 29-year-old, who is first-time arbitration eligible this winter, is under team control through the 2015 season. Jaso hit .276/.394/.456 in 108 games last season, his best offensive campaign to date.
Smith, 30, has a career .267/.345/.470 slash line across six big league seasons. The A's acquired Smith from the Rockies for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman on Wednesday. Smith, who will hit the open market after the 2014 season, earned $2.4MM from Colorado last season.
The Diamondbacks had insisted on receiving Major League-ready talent in any trade for Justin Upton, but were willing to accept prospects in last week's proposed deal with the Mariners that Upton blocked with his no-trade clause. D'Backs GM Kevin Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the change in philosophy was due to the rising cost of free agents and the fact that the Snakes had added outfield depth in Cody Ross.
"It’s easier to do more of a prospect-driven deal than before. To me, it would have to be the right prospects," Towers said. "We’re targeting people’s best prospects and upper-level guys that we think are close -- if not (major league-ready) this year, then next year.”
Some more news from around baseball...
- The Diamondbacks seem intent on trading Upton, leaving MLB.com's Matthew Leach puzzled at why the club would move a talented young player on a controllable contract.
- The Mets haven't given up on the possibility of offering Brian Wilson a Major League contract, reports Newsday's Marc Carig (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that the Mets were unimpressed when they watched Wilson throw over the weekend.
- The Braves have one of the least-profitable TV deals in baseball but team CEO Terry McGuirk says that low broadcasting revenues aren't hampering how the club does business, McGuirk tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Braves have 14 years left on their current TV deal, which McGuirk describes as “iron-clad."
- Athletics GM Billy Beane said it was difficult to move a highly-regarded pitching prospect like A.J. Cole, CSN Bay Area's Casey Pratt reports. However, the GM said it had to be done to help the A's contend in 2013. "We're shifting all of our focus on the Major League club and trying to take as much advantage as we can of the opportunity we have," Beane said.
- Beane said he prepared to go with a platoon of Derek Norris and George Kottaras behind the plate, MLB.com's Jane Lee reports (Twitter links). "Only if it was John Jaso" would he have made a move to improve Oakland's catching. Beane said he had been trying to acquire Jaso from the Mariners over the last couple of months.
- Buster Posey tops the list of baseball's best 25-year-old players, according to ESPN's Keith Law (ESPN Insider subscription req'd).
- Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune) that Edwin Jackson's age and track record made the team comfortable enough to sign him to a big free agent contract.
- In another item from Sullivan, Epstein said that he expects the Cubs to contend in 2013 despite the fact that they're still ostensibly rebuilding. "Otherwise, there’s no reason to show up or build a team,” Epstein said. “It’s postseason or bust every year. That’s what our goal is."
It's no secret that the Mariners have been desperate for solutions to their league-worst hitting in recent years. From moving in the fences at Safeco Field to aggressively pursuing top free agent batters, the M's have been determined to add pop and M's general manager Jack Zduriencik feels the team's latest addition of Michael Morse has helped solidify the lineup, amongst other offseason moves. Zduriencik told reporters during a conference call today that Morse's big bat was worth giving up a solid catcher like John Jaso.
"[Jaso] added a lot to our club last year but I think when you are in the position to acquire an everyday guy who has a chance to hit the ball hard and hit the ball far, I think it does change your game," Zduriencik said. "One of the things we have seen since I have been here is our lack of raw power; in Michael we have got a guy who has got big-time power.
Between Morse and the other additions, the Mariners suddenly have several options at DH, first base and the corner outfield spots, as young incumbents like Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero still need to find at-bats. In Montero's case, he will be expected to become the team's everyday catcher, though Zduriencik said he is looking for some veteran depth at the position.
"We're going to be shopping, there's no doubt," Zduriencik said. "We've already talked to some people and had some discussions with people....We like our catching in the organization and we've got some pretty good kids right on the horizon."
The foundation of the trade was developed when Zduriencik touched base with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo after the season and told him that he was interested in some of Washington's hitters. The two general managers reconvened recently since the Nats now had some hitting to spare with Adam LaRoche re-signed, and the A's were brought into the mix since Oakland GM Billy Beane had recently spoken to Zduriencik about Jaso's availability.
"It just became a three-team conversation," Zduriencik said. "So at the end we were able to satisfy what we wanted and I think Oakland was able to satisfy what they wanted and [Rizzo] got back prospects that he was seeking."
Morse, for his part, said he was very excited about returning to Seattle, where he spent the first four years of his Major League career before being dealt to the Nats before the 2009 season. With just a year left on his current contract, Morse just said "that's why I've got those agents" in regards to the possibility of talking about an extension, but he was clearly happy that the Mariners were the trade suitor that emerged to make the deal.
"I knew there were teams involved, I knew Seattle was one of them. That was one of the teams I was hoping for," Morse said. "I love it out there and I always felt...I had unfinished business in Seattle. I never got to prove myself as the player I could be or who I am. This is another opportunity for me to show Jack and help his ballclub be the World Series champion ballclub that it should be."
Morse said he was fully recovered from the back injury that forced him to spend the first two months of the 2012 season on the DL, even joking that he was feeling good enough to play shortstop for the first time since 2007. It was reported earlier this month that Morse wasn't keen on being a designated hitter but said that he was willing to play whenever the M's wanted him to play.
"I feel very comfortable at first base or in the outfield and it doesn't hurt to get a breather sometimes at DH," Morse said. "My main goal is to play every single game. I'm so excited, words can't describe what me and my family are going through right now."
The Mariners, Nationals and Athletics have combined on a three-team trade that will send Michael Morse to the Mariners, John Jaso to the A's and a three-player package to the Nationals that includes minor league right-handers A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and a player to be named from the Athletics.
The Mariners have been searching for hitters all winter long and now add Morse, who has hit 64 homers over the last three seasons and posted a .291/.321/.470 line in 430 PAs for Washington in 2012. It's a bit of a homecoming for Morse, who spent the first four years of his career in Seattle before being swapped to the Nats for Ryan Langerhans. The right-handed hitter could see time in either corner outfield spot or at first base, possibly sharing time with Justin Smoak and other newly-acquired veteran bats as Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay. Jaso's departure also clears the way for Jesus Montero to catch everyday, and the M's also have top prospect Mike Zunino waiting in the wings.
Morse has been a strong trade commodity ever since the Nationals re-signed Adam LaRoche. At least five or six teams had shown interest in Morse, with the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox among those linked to the first baseman/outfielder. Morse turns 31 in March and is scheduled to hit free agency next winter.
Cole is on his way back to the Nationals organization after being dealt to the A's last winter as part of the trade package for Gio Gonzalez. Cole, 21, was drafted by the Nats in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and was rated as the 57th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the season. In 27 starts for two of Oakland's A-ball affiliates, Cole posted a 3.70 ERA, 133 strikeouts and 29 walks over 133 2/3 innings, though the major bulk of that success took place at low A-ball.
Treinen, 24, was the Athletics' seventh-round pick in the 2011 draft. The righty has a 4.13 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.1 H/9 in 133 innings over two pro seasons and made 15 starts last year.
The left-handed hitting Jaso enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, hitting .276/.394/.456 in 361 PAs, the large majority of which came against right-handed pitching. He will likely step right in as Oakland's regular catcher against righties, with the right-handed hitting Derek Norris in line for at-bats against southpaws. Jaso, 29, is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and is under Oakland's control through the 2015 season.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post first reported the trade and the major teams and players involved. Earlier this evening, Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the M's were close to acquiring Morse. Morosi, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times and the Nationals' Twitter feed also added more details about the package going back to Washington.