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Rays sign Neil Wagner to rare two-year minor league deal

The right-hander is recovering from Tommy John surgery, which will force him to miss the entirety of the 2015 season.

USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays have made a rather intriguing minor move, signing free agent right-hander Neil Wagner to a two-year minor league contract, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The deal also includes an invitation to major league Spring Training in 2016.

While nearly all minor league contracts are for a single year, there is just cause to giving Wagner a two-year deal. The 30-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery on August 19th, and is expected to sit out the 2015 season as he recovers. That gives him a timetable to return at the start of the 2016 season.

Wagner was having a rough season with the Toronto Blue Jays prior to his injury. In 10 appearances this season, he allowed nine earned runs. Wagner, who debuted with the Oakland Athletics in 2011, played a large role in Toronto's bullpen last season, throwing 38 innings and posting a 3.79 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 7.8 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9. Wagner was released by the Blue Jays last month after having been designated for assignment.

Per Nicholson-Smith, the Rays were not alone in their pursuit of Wagner, but their track record of resurrecting the careers of relievers likely pushed them over the top