Not so long ago Jeff Niemann was a big part of the Rays’ plans, but the former No. 4 overall pick missed most of 2012 and all of 2013 with a fractured fibula followed by shoulder surgery and now Tampa Bay has dropped him from the 40-man roster.
Niemann chose free agency, so he’ll be looking for a new home at age 30 after throwing 544 innings with a 4.08 ERA for the Rays.
As of September he was hoping to be fully healthy in time for spring training, so Niemann should draw plenty of interest as an inexpensive bounceback candidate capable of being a mid-rotation starter.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.
As the D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.
Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.
Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.