Jon Rauch has been dealt to Minnesota for a player to be named later, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune. Gambo and Ash are reporting that catcher John Hester is getting the call-up from Reno to take the spot on the roster - if so, he'll be the ninth player to make his major-league debut for the Diamondbacks this year.
It appears AJ Hinch is implementing a tattoo-based variation of ethnic cleansing in the Arizona clubhouse. First, it was Felipe Lopez; now, it's Jon Rauch. If were Ryan Roberts, I would pick up a change of address form next time I was at the Post Office.
Slightly more credible analysis after the jump
Wow. Anyone see this coming? Anybody? For three months up until Tuesday night, Rauch had been an extremely solid and reliable member of the bullpen: from May 27 through August 23, he appeared in 35 games and posted a 1.82 ERA over 34.2 innings. He appeared finally to have regained the form that enticed Arizona to trade for him from Washington, and was under Arizona's control for 2011 at a not-extortionate $2.4 million. His departure was thus a surprise, especially for the proverbial bag of balls in the shape of that perennial trade chip, Toby Namedlater.
Oh, well. Maybe that player is Joe Mauer. :-) It is possible that the Twins give us a major-leaguer. This is rare in such trades, but I'm hearing reports that Derrick Hall said the player in question would make the 25-man roster - it could be someone on the DL. The most notable case in Diamondbacks' history of an established player being involved is Micah Owings, who became the PTBNL in the trade with the Reds for Adam Dunn. However, more realistically, players to be named later are rarely significant at the point of trade [this is why, in Bull Durham, Kevin Costner introduces himself to his new manager with the phrase, "I’m the player to be named later."]
Of course, this doesn't mean they are inevitably useless. David Ortiz was the PTBNL when the Mariners got Dave Hollins from the Twins in 1996., and others who have filled this role at some point include Moisés Alou, Jeremy Bonderman, Coco Crisp, Scott Podsednik and Jason Schmidt. So there is some hope, but the odds are probably about the same as with a Rule 5 pick.
The move saves the Diamondbacks from having to pay Rauch next year, though if they were so keen to avoid this, one does wonder why they bothered to exercise the 2011 option at all, as they did in the off-season. It seems a statement of confidence in the young arms in the bullpen - Esmerling Vasquez and Juan Gutierrez in particular, and it looks like they will now be the 7th-inning and set-up men for the team going forward. I can see the rest of the 'pen next year being Clay Zavada, Leo Rosales, Daniel Schlereth and perhaps Blaine Boyer.
It does continue something of a trend, with the team being unwilling to spend any significant amounts on relievers. Juan Cruz, Jose Valverde, Brandon Lyon, Tony Peña - all were traded or allowed to leave, when the cost of keeping them began to loom about their perceived value. It appears to be a tenet of organizational philosophy that there is not much point in paying a great deal more than league minimum, especially for a franchise like Arizona, which had limited resources. I can see the point of this: you have to combine our three busiest relievers [Gutierrez, Rauch and Chad Qualls] to get as many innings as have been thrown by our third-most durable starting pitcher, Jon Garland.
That said, our bullpen has been a major source of stress this season. I imagine I am not the only fan who feels more than a twinge of concern at the departure of someone whose performances had made believers out of many of us.