Since debuting in the majors in 2008, the 31-year-old Niese has mostly served as a capable starter. However, he’s essentially joining the Rangers off back-to-back lost seasons. As a starter and reliever in 2016, Niese combined for 121 innings of 5.50 ERA ball with the Mets and Pirates before undergoing season-ending knee surgery that August. He hasn’t been able to find a guaranteed contract since, as he inked a minor league deal with the Yankees last February and then another with the club shortly after it released him in March. Niese ended up going all of last season without pitching competitively for either the Yankees or any other organization.
With his new club, Niese will reunite with assistant pitching coach Dan Warthen, who was the Mets’ pitching coach during Niese’s two tenures with the team, as Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram notes on Twitter. The soft-tossing Niese generally fared well under Warthen’s tutelage in New York, where he logged a 3.99 ERA/3.88 FIP with 7.0 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 across 188 appearances, 179 starts and 1,079 1/3 innings.
Given the uncertainty in Texas’ rotation beyond the unspectacular-looking quintet of Cole Hamels, Matt Moore, Mike Minor, Doug Fister and Martin Perez, who’s recovering from surgery to his non-throwing elbow, Niese could find himself back on a major league mound sometime in 2018. First, though, he’ll have to stick with the organization through the spring.