Earlier yesterday, Eddie Gamboa had been designated for assignment to clear up space on the Tampa Bay Rays 40 man roster. A few hours later, he was sent to the Texas Rangers.
Eddie Gamboa was a great story for the Tampa Bay Rays last year. He was a nine year minor league veteran, a former prospect who struggled at the upper levels of the minors. Gamboa reinvented himself as a knuckleball pitcher before the 2013 season. His career found new life, as Gamboa reached AAA for the first time later that year.
However, he was unable to take that next step and crack the Majors. The Baltimore Orioles let Gamboa walk as a minor league free agent, and the Rays signed him in mid-January last year. As a swingman in Durham, Gamboa continued to pitch relatively well, posting a 6-4 record with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.106 WHiP, striking out 89 batters in 94 innings. That performance earned Gamboa his first call to the Majors, where he posted a 1.35 ERA and a 1.275 WHiP in 13,1 innings.
Although he likely faced an uphill climb to crack the Rays bullpen, Gamboa certainly appeared as though he was going to get a look this Spring following that performance. Instead, the Rays recent moves led to his being designated for assignment, as the 40 man roster was full. Yet, he was not without a home for long, as Gamboa was traded to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash.
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This move could give Gamboa a real chance to start the season in the Majors. Texas only has 39 players on the 40 man roster, with Prince Fielder and Jake Diekman both being transferred to the 60 day disabled list, giving Gamboa a chance to be on the roster. And, with holes at the back of the rotation and in the bullpen, he could get a long look this Spring.
It is also interesting to note that Gamboa was originally signed by scout James Keller when he was with the Orioles. Keller currently works as a special assistant to the general manager, giving the team a little more familiarity with what he can provide.
At 32 years old, it would normally be unlikely that Gamboa could have a long career in the Majors. However, as a knuckleball pitcher, his career could just be getting started. If he continues his strong performance from last year, Gamboa could find himself as a solid option for the Rangers in 2017 and beyond.
Eddie Gamboa was a nice story for the Tampa Bay Rays last year. Now, the next chapter of that story could take place in Arlington.