Mariners acquire Jaso from Rays for Lueke

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager Jack Zduriencik announced today that the club has acquired catcher John Jaso from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke and a player to be named later or cash considerations.

“John gives us a left-handed-hitting catcher with some big league time who is still young,” Zduriencik said. “His left-handed bat will be a nice compliment to our right-handed hitting group. He’s a tough kid with post-season experience and should be a nice fit with us.”

Jaso (JAY-soh) is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound left-handed-hitting catcher. The 28-year old backstop appeared in 89 games with the Rays in 2011, collecting 15 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs and 27 RBI in 246 at-bats while posting a .224 average.

The 2011 campaign was Jaso’s first full season in the Majors. He started 67 games at catcher (including Opening Day), 65 versus right-handed pitchers. Jaso started 50 of the Rays’ first 90 games prior to being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain on July 15 (retro to July 10). The injury forced him to miss 33 games prior to being activated on Aug. 19.

In his first game back (Aug. 19 at Seattle) Jaso collected a squeeze-bunt RBI off Felix Hernandez to tie the game at 1-1. Jaso batted in the leadoff spot in six games in 2011 after batting leadoff in 45 games in 2010.

In 2010 became the 14th rookie all-time to serve as the primary catcher for a team that reached the postseason. Jaso hit leadoff while starting at catcher in 41 games; since 1901, only two players in history had started as many games catching and batting leadoff in one season: PIT/OAK Jason Kendall (5 times) and CLE Rollie Hemsley (1939). The 41 games marked the most starts in Major League history by a rookie catcher batting leadoff. Jaso led AL rookies and set a TB franchise rookie record with 59 walks. Overall, in 2010 Jaso hit .263 with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HR and 44 RBI in 109 games.

Jaso made his MLB debut as a September call-up in 2008, appearing in 5 games. In his Major League career, he is a .245 hitter in 203 games, with 33 doubles, 4 triples, 10 home runs and 71 RBI. He has appeared in the post-season in 2010 and 2011 with the Rays.

Lueke, who turns 27 on Dec. 5, appeared in 25 games with Seattle last season, his first in the Majors. He was 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA (22 ER, 32.2 IP). Opposing batters hit .270 off Lueke, and he allowed 5 of 7 inherited runners to score. Lueke struck out 29 in 32.2 innings pitched while allowing 13 walks.