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  • Jays Sign Rauch

    Cognisant of a young starting rotation and the volatility of relievers, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous added to his bullpen options Monday by signing six-foot-11 free agent Jon Rauch.

    The move comes less than two weeks after the American League East squad acquired Octavio Dotel.

    In signing Dotel, Anthopoulous said the 37-year-old would be the "front-runner" to replace the departed Kevin Gregg (now a Baltimore Oriole with a two-year, US$10-million contract) and his 37 saves.

    On Monday, he expanded that to include the 32-year-old Rauch.

    "They'll both be the front-runners to win that job out of spring training," he told a media conference call. "But (manager) John Farrell will be the one to make the determination between the two who's going to get that job."

    Anthopoulous declined to handicap the race.

    "Either way they're going to be very important parts of the 'pen. They will pitch late in the game."

    The Jays, who lost Gregg, Scott Downs and Brian Tallet in the off-season, have also signed Chad Cordero, a former first-round pick of the Montreal Expos.

    Meanwhile, Anthopoulous reported no immediate resolution on discussions with slugger Jose Bautista heading into Tuesday's 1 p.m. ET deadline for striking a deal and avoiding arbitration.

    "We continue to have dialogue with all our arbitration-eligible players," the GM said.

    "As you get closer to the deadline, talks continue to move forward," he added.

    Bautista earned US$2.4-million last year when he led the majors and set a club record with 54 home runs. He will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

    Both Rauch (US$3.5-million and $3.75 million) and Dotel ($3 million, $3.5 million) have signed one-year deals with a one-year club option.

    "There's no question we wanted to try to get the best closer that we could ... It's all about value and making sure that we feel that we're comfortable with the length of the contract and the terms and the dollars committed, and try to line all that up," Anthopoulous said.

    Rauch, the tallest player ever on the MLB books, recently underwent knee surgery but passed a Jays medical and has been pronounced fit for spring training.

    "No concerns at all," said Anthopoulous.

    Rauch went 3-1 last season with a career-high 21 saves for the Minnesota Twins

    In 415 career games with the White Sox, Expos, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Twins, he has posted a 34-27 record with 41 saves and a 3.71 ERA.

    Dotel saved 22 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies in 2010.

    He has appeared in 630 games for 10 clubs over a 12-year career, amassing a 49-43 record with 105 saves and a 3.75 ERA.

    "There's no question especially with a younger starting rotation, you like to have a veteran bullpen if you can," Anthopoulous said. "One of the most volatile areas and hardest to predict from year to year is the bullpen and relievers."

    Toronto's bullpen ranked 10th in American League ERA last year.
    It seems like AA is stacking the pen the same way as last year, but this time with more club flexibility. Last year, we had 3 guys going into spring training with Frasor/Downs/Gregg competing for the closer's role. This year, we have Frasor/Dotel/Rauch going at it and after another solid year from Camp, he's another reliable arm at this point (though he probably won't get a closer look). In addition to that, Tallet is gone, so that's definitely an upgrade When it's all said and done, this pen is very similar to last year's, if not better, and we hold club options on both Dotel and Rauch (who could also both net us draft picks) along with controlling most of our other relievers via arbitration.

    And if guys like Purcey, Roenicke, Carlson and guys like that somehow aren't ready to step into a role with the Jays, we also have guys like Cordero and Villanueva ready to win a job too.
    Last edited by babaganoosh; 01-17-2011, 03:56 PM.

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