In the course of his career as a professional baseball player, Jon Rauch has been traded for three players whose names are familiar to Mets fans: Carl Everett, Emilio Bonifacio, and Kevin Mulvey. Rauch made his debut with the White Sox in 2002, three years after they drafted him. Since then he’s also played for the Expos/Nationals, Diamondbacks, Twins, and Blue Jays, posting a 3.82 ERA over 520.2 innings of work, the grand majority of which came as a reliever.
Rauch’s 2011 season with Toronto was easily the worst of his career. His 4.85 ERA, 5.26 FIP, and 16.0% strikeout rate were his worst single-season numbers to date. Always a fly-ball pitcher, Rauch yielded 1.9 HR/9, the worst rate among qualified relievers by a significant margin. To top it off, his average fastball was clocked at 89.5 mph, his lowest mark since 2005.
Given the down year, it’s a bit surprising that it took $3.5 million for the Mets to sign Rauch in December. His role in the bullpen should be similar to that of Manny Acosta or Bobby Parnell, both of whom could easily outperform Rauch this season. On the upside, the Mets only committed one year to a 6’ 10" reliever with a neck tattoo who has consistently avoided walking opposing hitters. And although the walls are moving in at Citi Field, Rauch probably won’t give up home runs at the clip he did last year. Like several of his new teammates, Rauch could be a trade chip in July if he’s performing like his non-2011 self.