Monday, November 8, 2010

Free agent arbitration: Jon Rauch

Age in 2011: 33

Free agent classification: Type B.

Basic stats: 3-1, 21 saves, 3.12 ERA (Full stats here.)

2010 salary: $2.9 million

The Outsider's verdict: No


Jon Rauch in his Twins
tenure: 8-2 with 21 saves
and a 2.82 ERA.
Rauch had two 2010 seasons: the part in which he had the glory job of the closer, and the part in which he was the No. 3 (or lower) set-up man. Once the Twins traded for Matt Capps, Rauch was not only demoted from the ninth inning role, he also ranked below Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain in the setup hierarchy, which is why he had just two holds.

If this were, say 10 years ago, it's very likely that somebody would be sufficiently impressed by the 21 in his saves column to make a big offer this winter. Oh boy, a proven closer! But today, most general managers recognize the fallacy in using a "decisions" stat to evaluate pitching talent.

Rauch has value as a set-up man, as bullpen depth. That is likely to be how the market treats him as a free agent. There's too much risk here that arbitration will value him as a "proven closer." The Twins will, and should, forego the reward of the draft pick and duck the risk that he'll accept arbitration.

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