Before the 2012 season, the Oakland Athletics were trading veterans for young prospects with an eye for the future, like pitcher A.J. Cole.
As it turned out, some of the young players, like Tommy Millone and Jarrod Parker, helped turn the A's around faster than expected, as they won the American League West title.
Going into the 2013 season, the Athletics are hoping to defend their division title and have shown that they are willing to part with some young prospects in order to make the big league club better. One of the prospects they parted with was pitcher A.J. Cole.
According to the Associated Press (via the Washington Post), the Athletics took part in a three team deal that sent Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners and catcher John Jaso to Oakland. Meanwhile, the Athletics sent A.J. Cole back to the Washington Nationals organization. The A's had acquired Cole from the Nats in the Gio Gonzalez trade.
Baseball America listed Cole as the Athletics top pitching prospect after the 2012 season. But Cole would have played in Single-A ball in 2013, and Jaso makes the parent club better now.
Jaso is a left-handed-hitting catcher in his 20s who has some power and is very good at getting on base. In other words, he fits perfectly into the Oakland model. He cannot hit left-handers, but Derek Norris can platoon with him. Norris was, of course, acquired alongside Cole in the Gonzalez trade.
Jaso is an upgrade over George Kottaras as an everyday catcher. The Athletics are looking a little bit stronger going into 2013 as they take a win-now attitude.
What a difference a year can make. Just ask A.J. Cole.