Tampa Bay Rays Reportedly Take a Chance on Shawn Tolleson

Once the closer for the Texas Rangers, Shawn Tolleson is reportedly close to coming to terms on a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was just two years ago that right-handed reliever Shawn Tolleson was a key cog on a Texas Rangers team that stormed back to retake the AL West from the upstart Houston Astros. However, after a difficult 2016 campaign, the now 29-year-old (he turns 30 tomorrow) is apparently close to joining a new ball club after he was non-tendered by the Rangers.

The Tampa Bay Rays are always looking for bargains, especially in the bullpen. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the club is “close to finalizing a deal with RHP Shawn Tolleson.”

Topkin states that if the deal is completed it is likely to be a major league pact, which would almost assuredly give Tolleson a spot in manager Kevin Cash‘s opening day bullpen.

The former Ranger is coming off a season in which he only appeared in 37 games, giving up 31 earned runs in those contests. His strikeout rate also decreased from the season before, going from 9.5 K/9 to 7.2 K/9. Tolleson lost his closer’s role to setup man Sam Dyson early in the season, and was really never able to establish a place in the Rangers relief corps after the demotion.

This is a far cry from his career year two seasons ago, when he saved 35 games while finishing with an earned run average under 3.00.

A change of scenery was probably the best move as he can start fresh in a new organization. It is somewhat of a surprise that the Rays were willing to give him a major league contract because of how ineffective he was in 2016. Still, it looks like Tolleson will be eligible for arbitration after this season, so that could give the Rays some added value if Tolleson were to round back into form.

The Rays bullpen is currently led by All-Star closer Alex Colome and setup man Brad Boxberger, who was the team’s primary closer in 2015. Kevin Cash does have a fair amount of depth with productive pitchers like Danny Farquar, Erasmo Ramirez and Xavier Cedeno also holding down spots.

Tolleson will not be asked to perform in the late innings right away as the team has multiple arms it could turn to in that role. Still, if the former closer shows that he is recovered from a disappointing campaign last year, the Rays may have found another under-the-radar bullpen arm. If not, then there really isn’t that much of a negative effect on the team.

What do you think of the Rays adding Shawn Tolleson? Let us know in the comments below.

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