The Milwaukee Brewers traded outfielder Domingo Santana to Seattle for outfielder Ben Gamel and pitching prospect Noah Zavolas. Santana only appeared in 85 games for the Brewers last season after his breakout 2017 campaign where he hit 30 homeruns. Santana was probably the biggest Brewer casualty from the acquisitions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. He was sent down to AAA in late June and did not return until he became a September call-up. Last off-season there were many rumblings about a potential trade last off-season, so this may not come as a surprise.
Ben Gamel is a left-handed hitting outfielder. Ben is the younger brother of former Brewer Mat Gamel. He has spent his last 2 seasons with the Mariners. Gamel had a late start to last season while he was sidelined at the end of spring training and most of April with a sprained right oblique muscle. Gamel primarily plays in the corners making 48 appearances in left field and 40 in right. However, he did show some slight versatility making 4 appearances in center field and 1 at first base. He played in 101 games total for the Mariners last year slashing .272/.358/.370. He doesn’t offer much power only hitting 1 homerun last season. He had a 20.8% K rate last season which was a full 12.0% lower than Santana’s last season.
Gamel offers more positional versatility than Santana. Another key factor in this trade is the fact that Gamel has a minor league option left. David Stearns has proven time and time again that he covets the flexibility that comes with having a minor league option brings. Gamel also has one more year of team control than Santana had.
The mostly unknown piece in this deal is Noah Zavolas. He was an 18th round pick in 2018 out of Harvard University. He is a right-handed pitcher who pitched in relief for the Mariners Low-A and High-A teams last season. He made a total of 19 appearances spanning 38.2 innings. He had an ERA of 3.03 while striking out 41 hitters.
This trade may not be popular amongst most fans as Santana was beloved, however this trade was further proof that the Brewers love versatility. Santana was a good player in 2017, but an odd power outage last year hurt his profile. Gamel adds not only positional flexibility, but also helps the rosters flexibility with his minor league option. While also adding a lower strikeout rate. Zavolas is a lottery ticket, but what’s life without a little risk. With this trade the Brewers wanted to add versatility and that’s what they did, this may not be popular but having major league talent with minor league options certainly helped last year.