For years and years the Pirates have not had very good production out of the 1B position, hovering around replacement level. Suddenly the Pirates have a strong current option at 1B as well as the future option in place, nearly ready to take over. Jaso is doing a fine job holding down the leadoff position, with a .390 OBP and his defense has been better than anyone expected. The Pirates control him through 2017 if they so desire.
With Josh Bell waiting in the wings, it is likely that Jaso will not be needed through 2017. Bell is off to an outstanding start in AAA this season and is finally hitting for the power the Pirates were hoping for.
So if Bell is crushing AAA he is ready for the bigs right? Well, not necessarily. There have been many instances where Pirates hitters have blown through the upper levels of the minor leagues, not getting many at bats, and then struggled in the bigs. The most recent example of this is Gregory Polanco. Other Examples include Starling Marte, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker spent considerably longer times in AAA and that seemed to translate to quicker success at the Major League level.
Either way, the Pirates are set up to have a strong option at 1B for years to come. Another thing to consider is if there is an injury in the outfield that could keep a player out for an extended period of time. While Bell is currently playing 1B in Indianapolis, that does not change the fact that he has several years of outfield seasoning in the minors. Another thing to consider is that Jaso could slip. He doesn’t have any Major League seasons where he matches the production that he is currently giving the Pirates.
Let’s just sit back and enjoy strong play from the 1B position for the Pirates. It has been a while.