As some of our readers know, I am from Tampa and am a huge Rays fan. Also, colleague Mikey Schwartze is from the Tacoma, which is less than 45 minutes from Seattle, and he is a huge Mariners fan.
We figured the perfect way to post this trade was to do a discussion that would highlight what each team gets and gives up in this trade. Enjoy!
Jonathan C. Mitchell: Your hometown team and my hometown team struck a deal that is sending catcher John Jaso to the Mariners in exchange for right handed reliever Josh Lueke and a PTBNL or cash. What can you tell us about Lueke and why would he interest the Rays?
Mikey Schwartze: First off, Lueke came over to the Mariners in the Cliff Lee deal with a lot of controversy surrounding him due to legal troubles. Looking past that though, he has developed quite nicely as a relief pitching prospect. The 6’5” 220 lb righty spent time between AAA and the majors last year. In 32.2 innings pitched at the major league level, he had a 6.06 ERA with a K/9 of 7.99 and a BB/9 of 3.58. He was much better than his ERA suggests as he had a solid 3.24 FIP.
Lueke has a good arm, sitting around 92-96 with his fastball with a good curve and splitter to go with. The slider can be very good at times but he needs to be more consistent with the pitch. He has good command but there is work to be done. I think Lueke has all the makings to be a very solid reliever for the Rays. The soon to be 27 year old should be a good, cheap, late inning relief option. He is going to strike batters out while not walking too many batters. Lueke and Jake McGee could make for a solid lefty-righty punch at the back of the Rays 2012 bullpen.
JCM: Lueke sounds like the exact type of pitcher the Rays covet. He has 5-6 years of team control left, a power arm, and his results were poor but with good peripherals. The Rays rebuild their bullpen each year with guys like him. I like the potential he brings to the Rays bullpen. Bill James actually projects Lueke to have a 2.70 ERA and 2.62 FIP with 50 strikeouts in 50 innings next season. High expectations but he has the potential. But, he comes with baggage. To be honest, the details are a bit much and I refer the readers to this article on Lueke’s off field troubles.
MS: What do you think John Jaso will provide for the Mariners?
JCM: Jaso brings a solid approach to the Mariners. He works the count very well and draws walks but last year was a pretty bad year, posting a .298 OBP after an outstanding rookie season where he posted a .372 OBP. I think the true Jaso lies somewhere in between. Bill James projects a solid .347 OBP for him next season.
He brings a “can do” attitude and a lot of heart and hustle. He is a solid base runner and was the best base running catcher in 2010. His defense, though, leaves a lot to be desired. His blocking regressed last year and he was one of the worst at framing pitches. He has the potential to be an above league-average hitter at cathcer but he needs to improve his defense. What are your thoughts on Jaso coming to Seattle and how he fits into their current catching situation?
MS: I like the addition of Jaso but I can say that I did not see this coming at all. The Mariners have Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore and I figured Olivo would start with Moore as a backup but the addition of Jaso really mixes things up. I see Moore as the odd man out and that he will either be sent to AAA or be traded during Spring Training. As far as Jaso’s role I think that he will serve as a backup to Miguel Olivo but I think the time will be split pretty evenly. Jaso provides a nice left-handed bat that can platoon with Olivo at catcher.
Like you said, he has a pretty solid OBP which is something that the Mariners desperately need as they finished dead last in the majors in OBP last year. Do you think Lueke will start the year in the majors and what do you see as his role in the Rays bullpen?
JCM: That is a good question. I think there is a solid chance he finds his way on the major league roster if he has a decent spring. I don’t see the Rays adding any major arms via free agency and I think he will be given every opportunity to win a spot.
I think his role will be to come in and work an inning or more and usually in lower level situations at first. Eight of his last 13 games he pitched more than an inning, up to three innings at times. He worked multiple innings a lot in AAA as well. Once he can prove to be a good strikeout guy I think he can work his way into high-leverage situations.
All-in-all I would say this was a good trade for both teams, depending on who the PTBNL is. Agree?
MS: Yes I do think that this is a good trade for both teams. Each team fills a need with a young, cheap player that will be under team control for years to come. While both Jaso and Lueke are unfinished products they should both continue to develop and be useful players this year and beyond. I don’t think I can say that there is a winner and a loser in this deal.
JCM: I agree. The Rays usually take the cash over the PTBNL so I feel comfortable assuming this is a near straight up, one-for-one deal. Thanks for collaborating with me on this piece!
MS: Thank you as well Jonathan.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and you can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert and Mikey Schwartze can be followed on twitter at @Mike_Schwartze. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt