Traber went to Loyola Marymount University, where he was First-Team All-American and West Coast Conference Player of the Year. He set a single-season school strikeout record with 156 strikeouts (in 123 innings pitched).
In 2000, Traber entered the draft and was picked in the first round (16th overall) by the New York Mets. The Mets were prepared to offer Traber a contract worth $1.3 million, but after an MRI showed some damage to his pitching elbow, he signed a contract worth only $400,000.
Later that year, the Mets traded Traber to the Cleveland Indians along with Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Earl Snyder, and Jerrod Riggan for Roberto Alomar, Mike Bacsik, and Danny Peoples. The deal to get Traber and the rest for Alomar ultimately beat out another that would have traded Alomar straight across for Gary Sheffield.
In 2002, Traber was runner-up minor league pitcher of the year, going 17-5 for the Akron Aeros (Double-A) and Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A), and was voted by Baseball America as having the best control and curveball in the league. His numbers were also good enough to give him top-honors for Cleveland pitching prospects.
On April 4, 2003, Traber made his Major League debut. Although he started out well (1.59 ERA, 1-0 record in 7 games that spring) -- even pitching a one-hit shutout of the New York Yankees on July 8 -- Traber's season fell apart when elbow problems that haunted him in college and the minors came back to end his '03 campaign and ultimately the entire 2004 season when he needed Tommy John surgery.
During the 2004-2005 off-season, the Boston Red Sox signed Traber. Before playing a single game, the Red Sox placed him on waivers. On November 10, 2004, he was claimed by the Indians off waivers and was signed to a minor league deal on December 22, 2004.
On January 5, 2008, he signed a minor league deal with the New York Yankees and was invited to spring training. On March 15, he was added to the 40-man roster and he opened the season in the Yankee bullpen. He had a less than stellar start to the season, and was optioned down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Shelley Duncan on the 25-man roster.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Billy Traber baseball diary - At the Yard (2003)