ST. PETERSBURG - APRIL 24: Catcher John Jaso #28 of the Tampa Bay Rays takes a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 24, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Lueke appeared in 25 games for Seattle last season, his first at the big league level. His ERA was 6.06 but his fielding independent numbers FIP (3.24) and xFIP (3.79) were much better. He posted excellent K/9 numbers in the minor leagues and has plus control as well. His arsenal includes a 93 mile per hour fastball, a split fingered fastball and a curveball.
Jaso leaves the Rays after two very different seasons. In 2010 he was a bright spot, posting a .372 on base percentage in 404 plate appearances. Last year didn't go nearly as well as his OBP plummeted down to .298 and injuries limited him to just 89 games. His defense has always been an issue, and with the Jose Molina signing nearly complete there wasn't room for the two of them. The Rays head into the 2012 season with Robinson Chirinos, Jose Lobaton and, presumably, Jose Molina as the only catchers with major league experience.
This move helps to strengthen the Rays for 2011
. Lueke has a dark side, however. After he was traded to Seattle by Texas in the deal for Cliff Lee in July of 2010 the Seattle Times published reports of a criminal past.
Josh Lueke, 25, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-handed relief pitcher in Class AA, faced rape and sodomy charges in Bakersfield, Calif., last summer, but later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of false imprisonment with violence. Lueke was sentenced to 40 days in prison, but was freed with time already served after agreeing to the plea bargain.
Extended details of the incident can be found here. The Rays must have great trust that character issues like these are a thing of the past for the young man.