The Seattle Mariners acquired another left-handed hitter to add to their lineup for 2012. 28-year-old catcher John Jaso, a left-handed hitter with good plate discipline and gap power, was acquired from Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for right-handed reliever Josh Lueke and a Player to be Named Later or cash considerations.
Lueke's tenure with the Mariners was anything but smooth. He came to the club as part of the Cliff Lee trade, but the legal troubles in his background were said to be a surprise, and the club's embarrassment upon discovering the details of those issues ultimately resulted in the departure of Director of Pro Scouting Carmen Fusco. Lueke struggled with his command and had velocity issues early in the season and ended up posting a 6.06 ERA (3.24 FIP), 1.44 WHIP and 8.0 SO/9 in 32 2/3 innings out of the Mariners bullpen and a 2.76 ERA (3.06 FIP), 1.09 ERA and 7.4 SO/9 in 42 1/3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma in 2011.
Jaso's arrival gives the Mariners three catchers on the 40-man roster along with Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore, who recently completed an encouraging stint in the Arizona Fall League, both right-handed hitters. It is very unlikely that all three break camp with the club, so Moore is likely the odd man out here. He does still have an option, so a return to Triple-A could be in the cards, but a trade is also a possibility.
In the club's official release regarding the deal, Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President and General Manager Jack Zduriencik said, “John gives us a left-handed hitting catcher with some big league time who is still young. His left-handed bat will be a nice compliment to our right-handed hitting group. He’s a tough kid with postseason experience and should be a nice fit with us.”
Jaso started 50 of the Rays' first 90 games last season before missing 33 games due to a strained right oblique. Jaso has four seasons of team control left and isn't eligible for arbitration until 2013, so he is a very cost-effective addition. He is a career .254/.342/.379 hitter versus right-handed pitchers while he's posted just a .188/.330/.275 mark versus lefties. He figures to allow the Mariners to give Olivo much more time off than he had in 2011 when the 32-year-old played in a career high 130 games.
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