Gatto, 25, was a second round pick of the Anaheim Angels in 2014. He was a starter in the Angels’ system until moving to relief prior to the 2019 season. As a reliever in 2009, he had a 4.80 ERA in 54.1 IP for AA Mobile, with 57 Ks against 28 walks. He has not, from what I can tell, ever been on the 40 man roster, and he became a minor league free agent at the end of 2020. He should have the full compliment of three options beginning in 2021.
The fact that the Rangers are giving him a major league deal is surprising, given he hasn’t really pitched well, for the most part, in the minors, and has never pitched above AA. According to Levi Weaver, Gatto, who wasn’t invited to the Angels’ Alternate Training Site, worked with Driveline in Tempe, as well as X2Athletics and Push Performance. Weaver’s piece includes video of Gatto throwing a bullpen where he hit 98.6 mph. The Rangers are apparently betting on him being a new pitcher as a result of the work he has done in 2020.
There’s also, of course, the fact that there is now ample opportunity for bits, given the Rangers have both Joey Gallo and Joe Gatto. If the Rangers aren’t going to be good, they can offer us some bits, I guess.
UPDATE — Per John Blake, the Rangers have signed Joe Gatto and Scott Heineman to major league deals, putting the 40 man roster at 38.
Heineman was non-tendered yesterday. As I wrote earlier today, the Rangers have re-signed every non-arbitration-eligible player they have non-tendered in the Jon Daniels era, and the move is generally done in order to allow the team to get the player off the 40 man roster and on a minor league deal without having to run him through waivers. In the case of Heineman, I guess the Rangers were going to lose him if they weren’t going to bring him back on a major league deal, and thus he’s back on the roster.