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Rays nearing deal with RHP Shawn Tolleson

Tampa Bay closing in on a deal with the 2015 Texas Rangers closer.

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Rays are nearing a deal with right handed reliever Shawn Tolleson. Tolleson declined an assignment and became a free agent earlier this off-season.

Shawn Tolleson had a successful run with the Rangers in 2014 and 2015 where he threw 70+ innings and put up ERAs below 3.00 in each season. In 2015 he collected 35 saves and was awarded a big raise to $3.3MM in his first year of arbitration.

In 2014 and 2015 Tolleson combined for 144 innings of 2.88 ERA and 3.57 FIP. He struck out 24.4% of batters while walking 7.6%.

2016 was an absolute disaster for Tolleson as he threw 36.1 innings of 7.68 ERA and 3.89 FIP. His strikeout rate fell to 17.3%, however he only walked 6.0% of batters. He was plagued by an obscene 24.2% HR/FB rate. Tolleson picked up 11 saves and 1 hold while blowing 4 saves and lost his ninth inning job.

The good news is that the soon to be 29 year old hasn’t lost anything on his fastball as his 94.04 MPH average was the second highest of his career behind only his 2015 average of 94.09 MPH. In 2014-15 his change up averaged just under 81 MPH, but in 2016 that increased to 83.13 MPH. His whiff rate on the changeup fell from 15%+ to 8.33% in 2016.

The Rays have a history of being able to get the most out of change ups and he has a history of success when he’s able to bring a larger differential and hopefully Jim Hickey and the Rays can coax that out of him in 2017.

No details exist on a potential deal, but if it is a major league deal the Rays will have to make another cut from the 40 man to add him to the roster.

Tolleson isn’t a flashy signing, but he will be a good addition to a bullpen that needs more competitive arms to fight for high leverage innings.