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.
Free agent reliever Sean Burnett signed a minor-league pact with the Marlins on Saturday. Per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, the left-hander is slated to begin the season in extended spring training and will work toward a role in the majors.
Burnett, 35, has not appeared in full-time role in MLB since 2012. He last pitched for a big league team in 2016, surfacing for 5 2/3 innings with the Nationals before returning to the minors. Despite signing a minor-league deal with the Phillies last spring, he failed to make the Opening Day roster and was released prior to the start of the season.
Complicating Burnett’s return is a slew of chronic elbow issues. The left-hander has dealt with everything from bone spurs to a torn UCL over the last six years, and will need to take things slowly in the minors before the Marlins consider adding him to the bullpen this season.