Niemann, 31 in February, missed the entire 2013 season as he recovered from right shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff and labrum. It was the second shoulder surgery he's undergone since being selected fourth overall out of Rice University by the Rays in the 2004 draft, though the other operation occurred in 2005. Niemann has missed chunks of six Major League and Minor League seasons due to shoulder woes. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected him to earn $3.4MM in 2014, so it's not a surprise to see the cost-conscious Rays cut ties with such a wild card.
The 6'9" right-hander last pitched in 2012, totaling just 38 innings but posting a strong 3.08 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 51.4 percent ground-ball rate. In 544 1/3 career innings, Niemann has produced a 4.08 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate. His recent rash of injuries likely leave him destined for a minor league deal this winter, but plenty of teams are probably interested in buying low on Niemann's services.