The Tampa Bay Rays are close to a major league agreement with former Texas Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson, reports Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times). Additionally, the Rays announced that they have traded outfielder Mikie Mahtook to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 18, 2017
Tolleson was non-tendered by the Rangers last month after a poor 2016 campaign (7.68 ERA/3.89 FIP over 36.1 innings), however, he was excellent as recently as the 2014/15 seasons. In his two-year run of success, the right-hander logged a 2.88 ERA/3.57 FIP and fanned 24.4% of batters while walking just 7.6% (9.1/2.8 K/BB) across 144 innings of relief. Because of it he earned the ninth-inning role and he fared well, racking up 35 saves in 2015, while earning $3.3-Million in his first year of arbitration.
2016 was not kind to Tolleson, who saw his strikeout plummet to 17.3%, even though he walked only 6.0% of batters. The culprit? An obscene 24.2% HR/FB rate. Tolleson was able to accrue 11 saves and one hold, yet his four blown saves consequently led to his expulsion from the closer’s role in favor of teammate Sam Dyson.
According to Topkin, while Tolleson missed time with a back injury in 2016, he’s now said to be healthy, which gives him a decent shot at cracking the Rays’ bullpen. Should he return to form in Tampa Bay, the Rays will be able to control the righty through the 2018 season.
Since he is expected to sign a major league deal, the Rays will need to make another cut from the 40-man roster in order to add either Tolleson or Colby Rasmus.
On that very subject, the Rays were able to clear one roster spot Wednesday afternoon with the trade of Mahtook, who was selected as the 31st overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Mahtook debuted in 2015 and posted an impressive .295 BA/.351 OBP/.619 SLG/.970 OPS line with nine home runs in just 115 plate appearances — including an impressive .353 BA/.397 OBP/.706 SLG/1.103 OPS over the final 24 games of the season. His bat regressed in 2016, however, with the outfielder slashing just .195 BA/.231 OBP/.292 SLG/.523 OPS with three homers over 65 games (196 big league plate appearances). Mahtook was sidelined by a broken left hand for a good portion of the 2016 season, though his injury likely didn’t have much to do with his lack of production.
As I start a new chapter in my baseball career, I want to say thank you to the Tampa Bay Rays organization for giving me an opportunity to make my dreams of becoming a Major League Baseball player come true. Thank you to the coaches, teammates, and fans who have been with me along the way. With that said, I’m extremely excited for this next opportunity. I began my college career as a tiger, now I get to continue my professional career as one. I’m looking forward to being a part of a great organization. #geauxtigers
— To better know a Ray… The guys on Hot Stove talked to Rays outfielder Mallex Smith about learning he was traded twice in one day, his 2016 season and more.