Pittsburgh has found its left-handed-hitting replacement for Pedro Alvarez at first base, signing John Jaso to a two-year, $8 million contract.
Jaso, who began his career as a catcher and transitioned out from behind the plate following a concussion, figures to platoon at first base with the right-handed-hitting Michael Morse. He won’t come anywhere near the same power numbers as Alvarez, but Jaso has very strong on-base skills and almost can’t help but be an upgrade defensively.
Jaso hit .286 with five homers and an .839 OPS in 70 games for the Rays in 2015 and he’s a career .263 hitter with a .767 OPS through age 31. Those career marks include a .274 batting average and .797 OPS versus righties–compared to a .178 batting average and .542 OPS versus lefties–so it’s easy to see why the Pirates think he’s a good fit for a platoon role paired with Morse.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels said he doesn’t expect the club to make a $17.9 million qualifying offer to free agent third baseman Adrián Beltré, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports. Daniels has been in touch with the 39-year-old, who may retire.
Beltré battled hip and hamstring issues throughout the past season, limiting him to 119 games. He hit .273/.328/.434 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI in 481 plate appearances. Going by adjusted OPS, his mark of 98 — 100 is average — was his lowest in a season since 2009 with the Mariners. Beltré’s career average is 116 and he put up a 132 in 2017 and 128 in ’16.
Beltré appears to have some stuff left in the tank. He may not be an All-Star-caliber player anymore, but he can still hit at an average level and he is still an above-average defender. It’s just a matter of his body holding up to allow him to do what he needs to do. If Beltré does decide to re-up with the Rangers for 2019, the club will be prepared to move Isiah Kiner-Falefa or Jurickson Profar over to the hot corner as they did in 2018 in the event Beltré gets bitten by the injury bug.