The market has been literally mute on right handed relief pitcher Jon Rauch. Bill Madden mused about it yesterday, but let’s explore it further.
Rauch has been around since 2002, playing with the White Sox, Expos/Nationals, the Diamondbacks, and the Twins. For his career, Rauch owns a 117 ERA+, a 3.89 FIP, a 1.240 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and a 2.62 K/BB. Basically, Rouch does everything you want a reliever to do: get some strikeouts and avoid the walk. His HR/9 is 1.0, which is a bit “meh” but we can live with it, as long as he keeps the walks and hits low (which he does).
One problem that presents itself is that Rauch, at 47.7% for his career, is a bit of a fly ball guy which may not go over well in Yankee Stadium. We would definitely expect a rise in HR/9 and HR/FB, especially after he spent 2010 in spacious Target Field (30th in the majors in park factor for HRs).
To his credit, Rauch has been upping his ground ball numbers over the last three years, but they’re still low. 2010 was his second highest ever at 37.7% (high was 42.6 in 2004).
Cost here is a little hard to figure out, though. On the one hand, relievers have been getting big pay days this year, and Rauch will probably want that. However, as we established earlier, the market for him has been completely dead. He may have to settle for a team friendly deal. He made $2.9MM last year, though, so he will probably require a decent raise.
Per FanGraphs, he’s been worth between about $3-4.5MM over the last three seasons. Though as Joe Pawlikowski noted in a piece on that same site last week, fWAR could undervalue relievers. Based on that statement, and the dollar numbers, I think I’d be comfortable giving Rauch a deal worth $5MM for one season. He may not want a one year deal, though. Going to two years is the most I would want, and I’d feel comfortable bumping the salary up to about $9MM with some incentives thrown in. Considering the market for Rauch along with that of other relievers, I think that would be fair. What do you think? Should the Yankees go for Jon Rauch? Am I hypothetically offering too much?