Tolleson not closing door on return to Rangers

Right-hander opted for free agency after being taken off 40-man roster

October 31st, 2016

ARLINGTON -- Right-handed reliever is a free agent, but he is not closing the door on a possible return to the Rangers. Tolleson is keeping all his options open as he waits to see where he will pitch in 2017.

"I'm not closing any doors," Tolleson said. "It depends on [the Rangers], but I'm willing to hear any offers from any team. My agent is kind of handling whatever is going on with other teams. I'm staying out of the loop."

Tolleson, after a disappointing 2016 season, was taken off the 40-man roster by the Rangers on Wednesday after clearing waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock. Tolleson exercised his right to refuse the assignment and became a free agent.

"I wouldn't say it caught me by surprise," Tolleson said. "I was disappointed initially. I loved the Rangers. I had a great time there. But I understand how baseball works. I understand it's not good to not have good results, and it's not good to end the season on the disabled list.

"But I'm healthy, I'm feeling good and I'm working out. I'll see what happens and what's out there."

Tolleson was born and raised in the Dallas area. He, his wife, Lynley, and son, Turner, still make their home in nearby Allen.

"From a personal standpoint, it was a great experience to play for the team I grew up playing for, be home around family and friends," Tolleson said. "I don't have anything bad to say about Texas. It was a great experience, great teammates, great team chemistry, a lot of great guys. It was all good."

Tolleson, 28, was originally one of the great success stories of the Rangers professional scouting department. The Rangers claimed him off waivers from the Dodgers in 2013 after he had missed most of that season because of surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. The Dodgers had taken him in the 30th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Baylor.

Tolleson made the Rangers' Opening Day roster in 2014 and pitched in 64 games, going 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA while holding opponents to a .214 batting average. He was used mainly in middle relief.

In 2015, he took over from as the Rangers closer and finished with 35 saves, a 2.99 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 73 games. He was named the Rangers Pitcher of the Year on a team that won the American League West title.

But 2016 was rough. Through his first 18 games, Tolleson was 0-2 with a 9.20 ERA with four blown saves in 15 opportunities. On May 18, took over as closer. Tolleson remained in the bullpen until July 29 when he was optioned to Round Rock. He pitched in four games there before suffering a strained lower back that put him on the disabled list for the rest of the season.

Tolleson said the back did not bother him at all during the season until he felt it on one pitch at Round Rock. But he said he is past the issue and expects to be full strength in Spring Training.

"It's good," Tolleson said. "I finished the season on physical therapy and was getting better. I continued that for a week after the season and then they cleared me to have a normal offseason. It feels great and not restricted in any way."

Now Tolleson waits to see where he will pitch in 2017.