We talked last night about the struggles of Brandon Gomes to establish himself in the major leagues. Luckily for the Tampa Bay Rays, that history was enough for him to remain in their organization. The Rays announced that Gomes had passed through waivers and will be a non-roster invitee to big league camp.
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Gomes, 30, clearly has several names ahead of him on the depth chart at this point, but the Rays are happy to have him around nonetheless. It’s always nice to have pitchers with some big league experience at Triple-A Durham, and it is not completely out of the question that Gomes will achieve major league success someday. His fastball is decent and he has shown flashes with a cutter, a slider, and a split-change, and the question is whether he will ever find a mix of his pitches to which big league hitters will not quickly adjust.
Other than the obvious names (Jake McGee, Brad Boxberger, Kevin Jepsen, Grant Balfour, Ernesto Frieri, and Jeff Beliveau), Brandon Gomes also finds himself behind Alex Colome, Jose Dominguez, Kirby Yates, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Steve Geltz among the Rays’ relievers. He has worse stuff than each of those five, making the Rays’ choice to designate him for assignment relatively straightforward. Given that reality, though, there are worse places for Gomes to be than Triple-A Durham.
Gomes is out of options, which lowered his appeal significantly to both the Rays and the other teams that could have claimed him on waivers. Now that he is at Triple-A, though, the Rays only need to put him on their roster when they need him, something that could also attract other franchises who need relief help. It would not be a total surprise if the Rays shipped Gomes out of town in a minor trade like they did when they swapped Chris Rearick for Vince Belnome.
If the Rays do decide to keep Gomes, however, he has two things working in his favor as he hopes to regain a 40-man roster spot. The first is the fact that he is capable of providing length, throwing at least 2 innings in an appearance six times in the major leagues in 2014 and six more times at Triple-A.
Alex Colome is the only other player we have mentioned capable of filling a long relief role. If Colome wins the Rays’ fifth starter job, Gomes’ case for the Rays’ roster will be much stronger. The Rays could always sign a free agent and nix that possibility, but Gomes has reason for hope at least for now.
In addition, long reliever is far from a glamorous role, and the Rays may not want to waste it on a player with more talent. Dominguez and Riefenhauser in particular look like they could use more Triple-A time to continue fine-tuning their arsenals, which helps eliminate some of Gomes’ competition for a roster spot. Yates looks like the biggest player in Gomes’ way, but if the Rays need a true long reliever, Gomes could be a better fit than him.
If the Rays truly regarded Brandon Gomes highly, he would not have been designated for assignment–let’s make that very clear. However, his chances for an Opening Day roster spot have not really been affected by the fact that he is no longer on the 40-man roster and he still has a chance to make a big league impact for the Rays in 2015.