Jaso appealed to Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik because he gives the club “a left-handed-hitting catcher with some big league time who is still young”. Zduriencik believes Jaso’s “left-handed bat will be a nice complement” to the Mariners current right-handed-hitting group of backstops.
Jaso appeared in 89 games for the Rays in 2011, hitting at a clip of .224/.298/.354. Last season Jaso regressed considerably from his rookie campaign in 2010. That season Jaso posted an OPS of .750 with 26 extra base hits and 44 RBI’s over his 109 games, earning him a 5th place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Jaso will be joining starting catcher Miguel Olivo and his backup Adam Moore in Seattle. The 28-year-old’s exit from Tampa only reaffirms reports stating the Rays are close to announcing an agreement with veteran free agent catcher Jose Molina.
In Lueke, the Rays are getting a reliever that finished the 2011 season strong. After a rocky start, Lueke ended the year by logging a sub 3.50 ERA over his final 17 appearances.
Before making his major league debut in 2011, Lueke dominated the minors. In 2010, Lueke finished the year with an ERA and WHIP of 1.86 and 1.00 over his 50 appearances and 63 innings. During that time, Lueke saved 17 games and posted a SO/9 ratio of 13.4.
In Lueke, Rays general manager Andrew Friedman sees a reliever who “has the stuff to get hitters out in the American League East”. Friedman and the Rays believe Lueke “can be an important part” of their future success.