J.P. Howell likely to have season-ending surgery

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Nothing official has been announced yet, but Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that J.P. Howell is in Alabama today visiting with Dr. James Andrews and “indications are” he “will have surgery” to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.
After struggling as a starter Howell moved to the bullpen full time in 2008 and over the next two seasons went 13-6 with a 2.48 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 156 innings. He saved 17 games after replacing Troy Percival at closer last season, but was shut down late in the year due to “fatigue” and then complained of shoulder soreness this spring.
He had been shooting for a late-May return before suffering a setback during a bullpen session yesterday. If surgery is indeed necessary Howell will miss the entire season and likely part of 2011 as well. Labrum surgeries have a lower rate of recovery than Tommy John surgery, so he’s looking at a very long road back and the Rays’ bullpen won’t be adding another late-inning weapon.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.