ST. PETERSBURG, FL — The Tampa Bay Rays today acquired right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke (LOO-key) and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for catcher John Jaso.
Lueke, who turns 27 on December 5, broke into the major leagues in 2011 with Seattle and was one of the Mariners most effective relievers over the second half of the season. He made the Mariners Opening Day roster but was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma in April after allowing 12 runs in 6.1 innings over eight appearances.
He returned to the Mariners in July and remained with them through the end of the season while pitching to a 3.42 ERA (26.1-IP, 10-ER) in 17 appearances, allowing 22 hits and seven walks with 21 strikeouts. He was second on the staff in relief innings over the last two months of the season. Overall with Seattle in 2011, he appeared in 25 games compiling a 1-1 record and a 6.06 ERA (32.2-IP, 22-ER). In 30 appearances with Tacoma, he was 2-4 with 11 saves and a 2.76 ERA and was named to the midseason Pacific Coast League All-Star Team.
“Josh has the stuff to get hitters out in the American League East and began to show that during the second half of last season,” said Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. “We believe he can be an important part of our success here for many years."
In five seasons in the Mariners and Texas Rangers minor league systems, he struck out 261 batters in 220 innings over 149 appearances, all in relief. In 2010, he was a combined 5-2 with a career-high 17 saves and a 1.86 ERA while pitching for four different teams at the Class-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels.
He was drafted by Texas in the 16th round of the 2007 June Draft out of Northern Kentucky University but was traded to the Mariners in 2010 along with Matthew Lawson, Blake Beavan and Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.
Jaso, 28, has been with the Rays for parts of the past four seasons. He batted .224 in 2011 with five home runs and 27 RBI in 89 games (67 starts). His best season came in 2010 when he batted .263 in 109 games with five home runs, 44 RBI and 59 walks, tops among American League rookies.