Former Blue Jays reliever Neil Wagner signs 2-year minor league deal with Rays

Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Neil Wagner (45) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Neil Wagner (45) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Of all the situations available to former Toronto Blue Jays reliever Neil Wagner, the  key was finding one that would not only give him a chance to begin anew, but also one with a history of rebuilding careers for relievers.

He couldn’t have asked for a better fit than with the Tampa Bay Rays.

According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, who cites industry sources, the 30-year-old right-hander has signed a two-year, minor league deal with the Rays. Wagner was released by the Blue Jays at the end of August in order to clear roster space for September call-ups.

As Smith points out, the first year of the deal will be spent mostly rehabbing his elbow, which required Tommy John surgery on August 19th. The typical recovery period for Tommy John surgery is between 12-15 months. Having a second year on the deal will allow the Rays to try to work Wagner into the major league bullpen by 2016.

The deal includes an invitation to spring training with Tampa Bay in 2016.

Wagner proved to be quite the find for the Toronto Blue Jays when they inked him to a minor league deal prior to the 2013 season. After working his way to the team in late May, the hard-throwing Wagner was excellent in 36 relief appearances, posting a 3.79 ERA and a 7.8 K/9 ratio.

However, 2014 proved to be a bigger struggle. After starting the season in Toronto’s bullpen, Wagner struggled to a 8.10 ERA in 10 appearances and the Blue Jays optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo quickly.  While Wagner showed improvements in Buffalo, he was held to only nine appearances before a forearm injury popped up and he was unable to work his way back onto a mound.

facebooktwitterreddit