Tampa Bay Rays: 40-man Roster Predicaments DFA or Trade

Sep 20, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Eddie Gamboa (59) throws a pitch against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Eddie Gamboa (59) throws a pitch against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the next few days, the Tampa Bay Rays will need to make a spot on the 40-man roster when they official announce their deal with Colby Rasmus. The question is whom will they drop or will there be another trade.

It is the 64,000-dollar question as to what the Tampa Bay Rays will do to accommodate outfielder Colby Rasmus on the 40-man roster when they officially make the announcement of his signing to a reported one-year deal.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes there are four possibilities, three of those would be to designate a player for assignment and the other would be a trade. The players that he speculates as being DFA’d are pitchers Ryan Garton or Eddie Gamboa, outfielder Jason Coats and possibly even a trade involving Erasmo Ramirez.

As Topkin points out, Garton does not have a secured spot on the roster and as for Gamboa, who is a knuckleball pitcher, he would have a limited role in the bullpen or as a starter. Ramirez though is becoming cost prohibitive and will make $3.125 million for the upcoming season, avoiding arbitration when he signed a one-year deal last week.

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Ramirez however is an ideal trade candidate as he could start, which he did for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015, work middle innings, in the set-up role or close in a pinch. Acquired during spring training in 2015 in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, Ramirez appeared in 34 games (started 27 games) in 2015 going 11-6 with a 3.75 ERA for the Rays.

Last year, in his first full season as a reliever he went 7-11 (64 appearances, 90.2-IP) with a 3.77 ERA, 2 saves and 15 holds. One of the problems that Ramirez faced in 2016 was over use, specifically during the first half of the season when he went 7-7 with a 4.12 ERA in 36 (one-start) covering 54.2 innings. Despite pitching in eight fewer games over the second half, he was 0-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 36-IP. His best month came in April, pitching to a 1.29 ERA with a 4-1 record (10 games, one start) in 21-IP.

From the start of the 2016 season to May 22, manager Kevin Cash used Ramirez in all different situations, coming into the game anywhere from the sixth through the eighth inning. According to Baseball-Reference, he has entered in the sixth inning five times, the seventh seven times, and the eighth four times.

Prior to last year’s trade deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles showed the most interest in Ramirez, however, there has been little interest during the offseason but that could change. There are still teams looking for bullpen help, and while a return may not be great, that is in terms of a major league player, it would not be out of the question for the Tampa Bay Rays to get a prospect of two. Bottom line is that Ramirez can be a valuable asset to one’s pitching staff.

A player not mentioned by Topkin is pitcher Kevin Gadea who the Rays selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Seattle Mariners. Gadea is a converted infielder and has only pitched as high as Class-A, however the Rays believe that he has a chance to make the jump to the majors.

Keep in mind, it cost the Rays $100,000 to take him and because he is a Rule 5 pick, he must remain in the majors all season or be offered back to the Mariners after putting him through waivers.

I question the Rays thinking process on adding Gadea to begin with. Why select someone that has not pitched above Class-A, knowing that he’s taking a roster spot, despite how much the Rays scouts thought of him, and only to take him into spring training to see what he actually can do? Specifically, why when you have pitchers already in the system (Jacob Faria, Brent Honeywell, Ryne Stanek etc…) that are further along and knocking on the door for their opportunity.

If he is as good as the Rays say he is, then why did the Mariners expose him to the Rule 5 Draft to begin with… Let him go now… do not waste the time during spring training deciding if he can help, let alone remain in the majors all season.

Garton and Gamboa both have two options remaining, and though they would need to be designated for assignment in order to take them off the 40-man roster.

It is a risk and gamble, and Garton has a much better upside than Gamboa.

The Rays selected him in the 34th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft out of Florida Atlantic University where he was a successful starter for all four seasons.

However, the Rays scouts said he did not throw hard enough as a starter, so they moved him into the bullpen where he excelled.

In five seasons in the minors (Low A – Triple A), he went 24-6 with a 2.77 ERA with 246-SO, 112-BB in 257-IP in 164 games. Over this span, he allowed just nine home runs. I would not risk DFAing Garton, I would keep and option him to Triple-A.

Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 21st round of the 2008 MLB Draft, and signed as a minor league free agent in January 2016 by the Rays, Gamboa finally made his major league debut last September.

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It took Gamboa nine years before he finally pitched in a major league game and although having a knuckleballer on the staff would be a nice twist, he is not a reliever though he has done so on occasion – but early in his career as a minor leaguer in the Orioles system.

It was a feel-good story for Gamboa, finally making his MLB debut at age 31 – however, the Rays are not in a position to hang on to him, as there are others more capable and more deserving to remain on the 40-man roster.

The final possibility would be outfielder Jason Coats who the Rays claimed from the White Sox and designated pitcher Dylan Floro so that Coats could be added to the 40-man roster. Coats was essentially claimed to give the Rays additional outfield depth, specifically right field where he has logged the most innings.

Coats is a former 29th-round selection by Chicago and made his Major League debut with the Sox in 2016, batting .200/.298/.340 in 58 at-bats. He is also coming off a monstrous year in Triple-A Charlotte, where he batted .330/.394/.519 with 10 homers, 22 doubles and a pair of triples in just 332 plate appearances.

Speculation on my part is that the Tampa Bay Rays keep him, with a ticket bound for Triple-A Durham where he will add depth.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Does Matt Wieters Make Sense?

So, with all this being said, in my opinion it is clear-cut and a no-brainer that Eddie Gamboa will be the odd made out…