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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Rays’ Niemann chooses free agency

Jeff Niemann’s injury-filled career with the Tampa Bay Rays likely ended Monday when he elected for free agency after being outrighted off the 40-man roster.

Niemann, who missed all of the 2013 season after surgery April 10 to repair the labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder and made only eight starts in 2012 because of a fractured right fibula, could re-sign with the Rays, though that would seem remote.

The 6-foot-9 Niemann was the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft. He was 40-26 with a 4.08 ERA in 97 career games (92 starts).

Arbitration eligible this winter for the third and final time, Niemann made $3 million in 2013 after making $2.75 million in 2012.

Niemann lost the battle during last spring training for a spot in the starting rotation to Roberto Hernandez and was slated to begin the season in the bullpen. But his shoulder injury, which he hid from the team during spring training, ended those plans.

Niemann spent the season in Houston rehabbing his shoulder. He visited the Rays in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 30 when they played the Texas Rangers in the one-game tiebreaker to decide the second wild-card team. Niemann said before that game that his rehab was going well and that he expected to be ready to pitch in spring training.

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