With rumours swirling that the Tampa Bay Rays have come to terms on a new contract with free agent catcher Jose Molina, the team dealt last year’s part time receiver John Jaso to the Seattle Mariners for right handed reliever/ex-convict Josh Lueke and a player to be named later or cash considerations.
The deal seems curious on a number of levels, not least of which is directly due to Lueke’s past. While in the Texas Rangers organization, the pitcher pled no contest to charges of false imprisonment with violence, after a woman went home from a bar with Lueke and another Minor League player, where the following occurred:
The woman told police she remembered vomiting into the toilet at the apartment. While doing so, the woman told police someone she could not identify was standing at her side masturbating on her.
She said she passed out, and when she awoke at around 8:45 a.m., she told police she was lying on a couch with her pants down and other parts of her clothing were missing.
She told police she felt violated and that she never agreed to have sex with anyone. Investigators later obtained DNA samples from semen found on the woman’s jeans and white tank top and from an anal swab.
A report from the Kern County Crime Lab states, “Josh Lueke matches this DNA” from the anal swab, tank top strap and hair of the alleged victim.
After the incident, Lueke was hoodwinkedly traded by the Rangers to the Seattle Mariners as part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas, severely denting the Mariners reputation. The team came out looking either poorly informed enough to not be aware of Lueke’s past or stupid enough to think that his past would be accepted by their fan base. Either way, Seattle pitching coach Rick Adair and scouting director Carmen Fusco were both believed to be fired due at least in part to comments they made publicly about the deal.
Aside from the personal issues, the deal still has question marks attached because Jaso, as a league average catcher still under team control for multiple years would seem to have far more value than Lueke, who is projected to be little more than a regular reliever in an MLB bullpen.
FanGraphs Dave Cameron tweeted the following comparison, which shows Jaso’s rate stats to be in line with Philadelphia Phillies All-Star receiver Carlos Ruiz. However, it should be noted that Jaso’s numbers only include 80 plate appearances against left handed pitching. However, even with some defensive shortcomings, a league average catcher is harder to find than a league average right handed reliever.
Either of these two factors alone would be enough to give Seattle the decision victory with this trade. Combined, it seems like such an obvious win for the Mariners, that I wonder what part of the story we’re not hearing.