JAN. 25: Topkin has the breakdown of Tolleson’s incentives package as well. Tolleson will earn $50K upon appearing in his 35th game, $75K for his 40th and 45th appearances, $100K for his 50th appearance, $150K for his 55th, $200K for his 60th and $250K for appearances 65 and 70.
JAN.17, 6:30pm: The deal, if completed, will be a Major League contract, Topkin tweets.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old right-hander was non-tendered by Texas last month after a poor 2016 campaign but was excellent as recently as 2014-15. In that two-year run of success, Tolleson logged a 2.88 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 across 144 innings of relief. Tolleson’s strong performance earned him a ninth-inning role with the Rangers for most of the 2015 campaign, and he racked up 35 saves that season as the primary closer in Texas.
However, the 2016 campaign was disastrous for Tolleson, who saw his ERA spike to an outlandish 7.68 mark over the life of 36 1/3 innings. Tolleson did pick up 11 saves, but he eventually ceded his ninth-inning job to teammate Sam Dyson, who enters the season as the projected closer in Texas once again. Tolleson was eventually outrighted by the Rangers and elected free agency in search of a better opportunity. Topkin notes that while Tolleson missed time with a back injury in 2016, he’s now said to be healthy, which one would think gives him a decent shot at cracking the Rays’ big league bullpen, even if the deal proves to be of the minor league variety.
Should Tolleson return to form in his new surroundings, the Rays will have the added bonus of being able to control him for another season. Tolleson finished the year four years, 109 days of big league service time, so he’ll be eligible for arbitration again next winter and wouldn’t reach free agency until after the 2018 season (unless the Rays elect to cut ties with him sooner).