Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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With pool of closers drying up, should Rays be interested in Rauch?
Posted Jan 16, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated Jan 16, 2011 at 11:39 PM
BY ROGER MOONEY
With FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Sports Illustrated’s Jon Haymen reporting Brian Fuentes is on his way to Oakland on a two-year contract with $5 million per year, the pool of potential closers for the Rays is becoming more of a puddle.
One name still out there is Jon Rauch, who took over the closing duties for the Twins last year when Joe Nathan went down during spring training.
The 6-foot-11 right-hander converted 21 of 25 save opportunities – not quite Rafael Soriano-esq, but not bad, either.
Rauch has 47 career saves during his well-traveled eight year career, and he did lose his role last season when the Twins traded for Matt Capps in late July, so it’s not like he is an established closer.
But neither was Soriano before he joined the Rays.
Rays executive VP of baseball Andrew Friedman is still looking for bullpen help, and he has yet to bring in someone who can close.
That he signed RHP Kyle Farnsworth on Saturday to a one-year, $3.5 million deal with an option for 2012 that could push it above $6 million means he can spend some money this winter.
Rauch made $2.9 million last season, so he won’t exactly break the bank.
The Rays are rumored to have interest in Rauch, just as they have been rumored to have interest in every relief pitcher this offseason, including Fuentes.
Friedman will only say that he is interested in any relief pitcher he thinks will help the club, so you know he’s at least kicked the tires on Rauch.
How hard? Who knows?
But given what the Rays currently have for a bullpen and what they still need, Rauch is certainly worth a serious look.