Free Agent Stock Watch: Jon Rauch

Twins fans feared the worst when Joe Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, but Jon Rauch's ability to close games was a big reason why Minnesota won the AL Central.  Though Rauch lost the closing role to Matt Capps in July, the 6'11" right-hander still went 21-for-25 in save opportunities, posted a 3.12 ERA in 59 appearances and had an impressive 3.29 K/BB ratio.

Let's see how Rauch stacks up on the free agent market this winter…

The Pros

  • Rauch is a Type B free agent, so a team can sign him without losing a compensatory draft pick.
  • Rauch might be eager to get away from Target Field.  His ERA in 30 home games last season was 4.45, compared to just a 1.84 ERA in 29 road games.
  • He's pretty solid against hitters on both sides of the plate.  He's obviously better against right-handed hitters (holding them to a .238/.280/.372 career slash line) but Rauch has also done well against left-handed bats — .255/.328/.417.

The Cons

  • Rauch lost the stopper's job both last year and in Arizona in 2009.  Teams looking for a closer could be worried by the fact that Rauch has yet to show he can handle the job for a full season.
  • Rauch tends to make things interesting at the end of games.  His H/9 rate was a career-high 9.5 last season.
  • After averaging 80.5 appearances per season from 2006 to 2009, Rauch pitched in just 59 games last year due to a variety of minor injuries.  He turned 32 last month.

The Verdict

Rauch is more likely to be signed as a set-up man than as a closer, and his solid career track record makes him a candidate for a multi-year deal in the neighborhood of two years and $7MM.  Teams looking for closing help this winter include the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Angels and Rays, so Rauch could get a look from those clubs to be at least part of a closing committee.  Rauch could also be signed by a team like Atlanta or Washington as an experienced backup option should their young closers (Jonny Venters and Drew Storen, respectively) falter.   

It's possible the Twins offer Rauch salary arbitration.  He'll get a raise from his $2.9MM salary last season, but if he can't find more than that on the open market, he could accept arbitration and then work out a contract to stay in the Twin Cities.  The Twins would be giving up the sandwich pick they'd receive if Rauch signed elsewhere, but with so many free agent relievers in their bullpen, Minnesota will still be in line for other compensation picks.  The Twins themselves are one of the clubs looking for closing depth if Nathan isn't fully recovered or back in form after his surgery.

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10 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Jon Rauch"

4 years 10 months ago

You must not remember the circumstances of Rauch leaving the whitesox, while they may look to add to the bullpen and specifically get closer help, rauch has no chance at factoring into those plans.

4 years 10 months ago

I say he signs with Texas

4 years 10 months ago

Two things:

1. Some bloggers (I believe Aaron Gleeman may be the most notable one) believe that the Twins overreacted a bit to Rauch’s struggles, which led to the Capps/Ramos trade.

2. Rauch’s lack of appearances was caused more because of Gardy’s strict usage of him as a closer (only in save situations and when he needed some work) than minor injuries.

4 years 10 months ago

When you are in danger of not winning your division in late july but are close to the top, there is no reason not to add a bullpen arm. Especially if he throws hard and has closing expierence. It also helps when pretty much no one in your pen throws harder than 95 at hardest (Jesse Crain)

4 years 10 months ago

The suddenly-deep pocketed Twins (new park) seem highly likely to offer Rauch arbitration. Seems like a no-brainer really considering his Type B status. Of course if he were a Dodger, an arb offer would never happen.

4 years 10 months ago

I want Jon Rauch in a Braves uniform next season. He’s at the top of my list for any FA reliever Braves have a chance to sign. He’s a veteran and I think will be a better setup guy than Saito was. He’s not a closer, but can be a very good reliever.

4 years 10 months ago

Something not mentioned above is that Rauch is consistent and can be a workhorse. He had two seasons with Washington where he had more than 85 appearances, followed by two years where he was traded around and had 74 and 75 appearances. Both his arm and his psyche survived that.

4 years 10 months ago

Why would’nt the Yankees select Rauch to replace the possibility of Wood moving on as a full time closer? I do understand the lefty/righty situation,but any none of the Yankee right hander set up people blew anyone away.

4 years 10 months ago

I’m sure he’ll be in the mix when Cashman goes over what he wants to do. Whether or not the Yankee bullpen improves will have almost as much to do with their 2011 as improving their starting pitching.

4 years 10 months ago

He’s a good guy for a contending to sign and lengthen their bullpen. Someone like the Phillies, Rockies. Both of those teams would also afford some save opportunities since their closers are injury prone. If he is looking strictly to close, I think he’ll have a hard time finding a job.