Twins Reel In Jon Rauch From Arizona

The
Deal
Little more than a year after Arizona acquired righthander Jon Rauch as a bullpen boost for the stretch run, the club flipped him to another playoff hopeful. The Diamondbacks shipped the 30-year-old Rauch to Minnesota for a player to be named, who in a roundabout sort of way turned out to be Triple-A righthander Kevin Mulvey.

The explanation: The Twins originally claimed Rauch on waivers on Aug. 28, sending a player to be named to the Diamondbacks. Officially speaking, that player turned out to be cash considerations—and not a player at all. Then in a corresponding move, the D’backs claimed Mulvey on waivers from the Twins on Sept. 1 and subsequently sent cash considerations to the Twins.

At 6-foot-11, Rauch is the tallest pitcher in major league history. He
surpassed Randy Johnson in that department when he made his big league
debut in 2002. The Kentucky native was Chicago’s third-round pick in
1999 out of Morehead State. In 2000, Rauch was named Baseball America’s
Minor League Player of the Year, but Rauch never figured things out as
a starter and became a power reliever with the Nationals before moving
to Arizona.

Since settling into the bullpen role in ’06, Rauch has
made 305 appearances, more than any other big league pitcher. In 59 games
for the Diamondbacks this season, Rauch went 2-2, 4.14 with 12 holds and two saves.
He struck out 35 and walked 17 in 54 1/3 innings. Rauch uses a heavy
90-94 mph fastball, a mid-80s slider and a mid-70s curveball to induce fly
balls.

The Young
Player
The Mets’ second-round pick in ’06 out of Villanova, Mulvey was one of four players traded to the Twins for Johan Santana. Mulvey, 24, reached Double-A Binghamton in his first professional season and has posted above-average numbers ever since. This year for Triple-A Rochester, Mulvey was 5-8, 3.93 with 113 strikeouts in 149 innings.

Despite the solid numbers, none of Mulvey’s four pitches grade out as above-average. He locates an upper-80s fastball with sink and run, while featuring a slider, curveball and changeup. Still, Mulvey is tough against righthanded batters, and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He’ll have a chance to compete for a rotation spot in Arizona next year.

Quick
Take
The Twins have had difficulty finding a set-up man for closer Joe Nathan all season, and Rauch will fill that void in September. At 3 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central, the Twins’ August activity (which also included trading for Carl Pavano and signing Ron Mahay) signified they were pushing their chips all-in.

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