By Matt Snyder
The Seattle Mariners have traded relief pitcher Josh Lueke and a player to be named later, along with cash considerations, to the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso, the Rays announced Sunday night.
Jaso, 28, hit .224/.298/.354 with 15 doubles and five homers for the Rays in 273 plate appearances for the Rays last season. He hits left-handed, while Mariners incumbent catcher Miguel Olivo swings from the right side, so some semblence of a platoon is possible.
“John gives us a left-handed hitting catcher with some big league time who is still young,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said (Mariners Musings). “His left-handed bat will be a nice complement to our right-handed hitting group. He’s a tough kid with post-season experience and should be a nice fit with us.”
The Rays could be ready to go with prospect Robinson Chirinos behind the plate, assuming they don't make any other acquisitions behind the plate. Another option would be Jose Lobaton.
Lueke, 26, is a 6-foot-5 right-hander. He appeared in 25 games last season, putting up a 6.06 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 32 2/3 innings. He did strike out 29 hitters and had a big strikeout rate in the minors, so it's possible that's where the Rays see upside. Lueke has a criminal past, as he pleaded no contest to charges of false imprisonment and violence against a woman back in 2008. Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said in a statement that the club did thorough research on Lueke.
"We're satisfied he's going to be the kind of person and teammate that we look for and we expect him to contribute positively to our group," Friedman said (Marc Tompkin).
Expect the player to be named later to be a marginal prospect, nothing more.
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