The Toronto Blue Jays have traded in one Kentucky reliever for another. The team announced on Monday it had signed former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports. The Blue Jays lost Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs as a free agent earlier this offseason. Downs signed with the Los Angeles Angels. Rauch was 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA and 21 saves for the Minnesota Twins in 2010. The Oldham County High School graduate struck out 46 batters and walked 14 in 57 and two-third innings in 2010. He will compete for the Toronto closer job, Chisholm reports. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports the deal includes a $3.75 million team option for 2012.
Rauch is 34-27 with a 3.71 ERA in his eight-season MLB career. The former Twins closer was selected in the third round of the 1999 draft out of Morehead St. by the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox traded Rauch to the Montreal Expos in 2004. Rauch stayed with Montreal as the franchise moved to Washington before the team traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trading deadline deal in 2008. The Diamondbacks traded Rauch to the Twins on August 28, 2009, and he became a free agent for the first time this offseason. Rauch began 2010 as the Twins closer after Joe Nathan suffered a season-ending injury but was eventually replaced by Matt Capps. In his career Rauch has 47 saves.