The Tampa Bay Rays announced the trade of catcher John Jaso for right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Lueke, who turns 27 on December 5, made his Major League-debut in 2011 with Seattle, becoming one of the most effective relievers for the Mariners over last half of the season. The 6-foot-5 right-hander, who made the Opening Day roster but was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma after pitching in eight games, allowed 10 earned runs in 26 1/3 innings (3.42 ERA) in 17 appearances while surrendering 22 hits and seven walks with 21 strikeouts during his second stint with the Mariners.
“Josh has the stuff to get hitters out in the American League East and began to show that during the second half of last season,” said Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. “We believe he can be an important part of our success here for many years."
In five seasons in the Mariners and Texas Rangers minor league systems, he struck out 261 batters in 220 innings over 149 appearances, all in relief. In 2010, he was a combined 5-2 with a career-high 17 saves and a 1.86 ERA while pitching for four different teams at the Class-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels.
Lueke was sent down to the Minors in April after allowing 12 runs in 6.1 innings over eight appearances. After compiling a 2-4 record with 11 saves and a 2.76 ERA, Lueke, who was named to the midseason Pacific Coast League All-Star Team, returned to the Mariners and saw action in the second-most relief innings on the staff.
He was drafted by Texas in the 16th round of the 2007 June Draft out of Northern Kentucky University but was traded to the Mariners in 2010 along with Matthew Lawson, Blake Beavan and Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.
Lueke faced rape and sodomy charges in Bakersfield, Calif., in the summer of 2009, but later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of false imprisonment with violence. Lueke was sentenced to 40 days in prison, but was freed with time already served after agreeing to the plea bargain.
Jaso, 28, has been with the Rays for parts of the past four seasons. He batted .224 in 2011 with five home runs and 27 RBI in 89 games (67 starts).
His best season came in 2010 when he batted .263 in 109 games with five home runs, 44 RBI and 59 walks, tops among American League rookies.
“John gives us a left-handed hitting catcher with some big league time who is still young,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “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.”
In parting ways with Jaso, it appears the signing of veteran catcher Jose Molina may come in
the next day or two.
Based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Chris Girandola has been a sports journalist for over eight years.
After receiving his Master of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, Girandola took his talents to New York, where he worked as an associate
reporter for MLB.com covering the New York Mets. Following this stint, Girandola was hired as
a regular contributor for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. His credits also include the
Associated Press, St. Petersburg Times, Naples News, Florida Football Magazine, Kentucky
Basketball Magazine, and Tampa Bay Business Journal. Girandola has also dabbled in collegiate
athletics as a member of the St. Mary’s College basketball team and is a coach for high school