So Long, Ben Gamel

Ben Gamel and minor leaguer Noah Zavalos to Milwaukee
Domingo Santana to Seattle

Ben Gamel will be 27 years old next year. His first Arb year isn’t until 2020. Domingo Santana is about 2.5 months younger than Gamel, but his first Arb year is 2019. Both of them are corner outfielders. Gamel is better defensively, but you’d hardly consider him a whiz. Santana has more power, but you’d hardly consider him a superstar.

I get the feeling the Mariners never really liked Gamel, dating back to his 2017 second-half swoon. Even though he was clearly one of the 3 best outfielders on this team in 2018, they continuously dicked around with Gamel’s playing time, ultimately sending him to Tacoma for ZERO reason, only to watch Guillermo Heredia flounder at the plate (he too has been traded this offseason, which goes to show you what this team thought of its Quad-A outfielders). By the time Gamel returned, he was one of the hottest hitters on this team, but it was too late, and ultimately not enough to bring this team back into contention. Now he goes to the Brewers, where if they can figure out how to squeeze some pop into his bat, might have a legitimate All Star on their hands.

Gamel has 13 total homers in his MLB career, spanning a little over 2 seasons. That’s obviously not good enough for your average corner outfielder, in spite of the fact that he’s got a somewhat-respectable career slash line of .269/.331/.392. You like the average and you’re happy with the on-base percentage, but that slugging number is abysmal. You could talk yourself into Gamel if he was good enough to be an everyday centerfielder, but he’s just not. That doesn’t make him a bad player; he has enough tools to stick in the Major Leagues for a good, long while, but he might never be a starter. Not unless he unlocks a swing change that boosts that slugging number at least a hundred points. Milwaukee might be just the team to do it, from what I’ve read on the matter.

For the Mariners, Santana represents potential. He finally cracked the Majors for good in 2016, and had a breakout 2017: 525 ABs, 30 homers, 29 doubles, 85 RBI, and a whopping 178 strikeouts. His slash that year was .278/.371/.505, representing a 3 WAR, which is indeed All Star-level production. He was apparently injured a bunch in 2018, hampering his value a great deal, but if he bounces back, he could be a real masher for the Mariners.

I like this trade because of all the cries of outrage from the Brewers’ fanbase. We potentially get 3 years at a reasonable value for a guy who could be a stud by the time our theoretical rebuild comes to fruition. Also, if he blows up right away, we could trade him for a supreme cache of prospects prior to the trade deadline, if we’re so inclined. The sky is the limit with this deal!

More importantly, the potential for Santana GREATLY overshadows the potential for Gamel. There was no way Gamel was going to turn into a stud while in a Mariners uniform; he needed a change of scenery more than anything. Santana already HAS the power, he just has to stay healthy and somewhat improve his plate discipline.