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Blue Jays Sign Jon Rauch

From the team's press release:

        The TORONTO BLUE JAYS have signed RHP JON RAUCH to a one year deal worth US $3.5 million, with a club option of US $3.75 million for 2012.

        RAUCH, 32, posted a 3-1 record with a career high 21 saves and a 3.12 ERA in 2010 for the Minnesota Twins. The 6-11, 290lb. right-hander has spent eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Chicago White Sox (2002-04), Montreal (2004), Washington (2005-08), Arizona (2008-09) and Minnesota (2009-10) after being drafted in the 3rd round of the 1999 June draft by the White Sox. The Louisville, Kentucky native has recorded a 34-27 mark, with 41 saves, and a 3.71 ERA in 415 career games, including 11 starts.

Hugo:  That sounds a lot like the deal on which the Jays brought in Kevin Gregg in 2010.  Rauch is a fly ball pitcher with closing experience.  He had a very nice season last year, but some significant cautions in abnormally low home run (.47 HR/9, less than half his career average) rate in 2010, propelled by a crazy-low 3.7% HR/FB rate.  He isn't really a punch-out guy, having struck out 7.34 per nine innings over his career nd 7.18 per nine last season, but he does limit the free passes (2.80 BB/9 over his career, 2.18 last season).  It's strange to see a reliever who is a fly ball pitcher with such a low K rate.  In any event, Rauch should be a nice option for the Jays, though I wouldn't expect him to repeat 2010 and certainly not in the AL East.  Rauch is a significantly better pitcher against righties (4.00 K/BB, 0.85 HR/9, 1.10 WHIP) than against lefties (1.78 K/BB, 1.14 HR/9, 1.41 WHIP).  I wouldn't think he gets the closer job handed to him, and I'm not sure he's all that much better than options already in house, but he's another arm in the mix for late-inning appearances and his control is a nice compliment to Dotel's high-strikeout, high-walk approach.  

Rauch was a Type B free agent (though wasn't offered arbitration), so the Jays could receive a sandwich round pick when he leaves if he retains that status.  

Rauch is a different pitcher than Gregg, but I feel about the same about this signing as I did when the Jays signed Gregg:  Meh.  I will say I would have much rather that the Jays had put the Dotel and Gregg money together and signed a bat for the lineup as I think it would've helped the team more.  That said, Rauch should be a solid contributor for the 2011 Jays.