Avoiding a potential arbitration case, the Tampa Bay Rays outrighted right-handed pitcher Jeff Niemann of their 40-man roster. Niemann declined the assignment to the minor leagues and chose to become a free agent, the Rays announced Monday.
Niemann, 30, missed the entire 2013 season after undergoing right shoulder surgery in April to repair his labrum and rotator cuff.
In 2012, Niemann missed more than half of the season after his right leg was broken when hit by a ground ball in May. He came back to make a Sept. 1 start, but he left the game after 3 1/3 scoreless innings due to a sore shoulder. That was his last major league appearance to date.
Over five major league seasons, all with Tampa Bay, Niemann has a 40-26 record with a 4.08 ERA in 97 games (92 starts). He has 409 strikeouts and 177 walks in 544 1/3 innings.