By Jason Shetler
On Monday, the Pirates and David Freese agreed to terms on a two-year extension, which includes a club option for the 2019 season. Freese has been very productive in his first season with the Pirates at both third base and first base. Now that Freese will return to Pittsburgh beyond this season, how much is that going to affect John Jaso?
The Pirates inked Jaso on a two-year deal this past offseason to be the first baseman this year, at least until Josh Bell’s arrival to the big leagues. Jaso displayed good on base ability in the first half, but has struggled to get on base post All-Star break. So much so, that he was taken out of the leadoff spot in favor of Josh Harrison.
With the recent recall of Bell, as well as Freese getting starts at first base to face left-handed pitching, Jaso is certainly going to have some at-bats taken away from him. He’ll be owed $4 million next season, which doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but also take into account that he probably won’t receive much playing time off the bench with the Bell/Freese platoon at first. The Pirates will probably look for bullpen help in the offseason, especially if they’re unable to re-sign Neftali Feliz and they decide to non-tender Jared Hughes, so Jaso could be looked at as a trade chip to obtain a bullpen arm. It’s fair to say that the Freese extension may have just sealed Jaso’s fate of returning to Pittsburgh next season.