As originally reported by Ken Rosenthal, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a two-year contract with catcher/designated hitter John Jaso. In six Major League seasons, Jaso has yet to play more than 110 games in a season, largely due to an unfortunately long list of injuries. Jaso has always excelled offensively, especially for a catcher, with a career slash line of .263/.361/.406.
After spending 2013 and 2014 with the Oakland A’s, Jaso had a second tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, the first of his career where he did not play catcher whatsoever. Throughout the season, Jaso received 41 starts as a designated hitter and seven starts as an outfielder. Having also played for the Mariners earlier in his career, signing with the Pirates represents the first time in his career where he will appear in the National League, and will thus be unable to play DH. His outfield appearances last year were his first moments at the position in the Majors, and he has appeared twice at first base in the past.
Perhaps the Pirates view Jaso as a replacement for last year’s regular first baseman, Pedro Alvarez. Even though Alvarez has a recent All-Star appearance under his belt, in 2013, the Pirates surprised most around the game earlier this offseason by releasing Alvarez instead of engaging with the slugger on a contract for his third year of arbitration. (Alvarez remains unsigned.) Earlier this offseason, Pittsburgh also re-signed utilityman Sean Rodriguez, Jaso’s former teammate in Tampa Bay who played six positions for Pittsburgh in 2015, with most of that time coming at first base.