The 2018 season started for Domingo Santana on the bench, then getting sporadic playing time and at-bats. He was never able to find his power at the plate which led to Eric Thames and Hernan Perez combining for 48 starts in the outfield.
By the end of the 2018 season, it was clear that Domingo Santana wasn’t going to be in the Brewers picture moving forward. This was evidenced by the Brewers signing of an aging veteran in Curtis Granderson, instead of giving Domingo the chance to earn playing time in the outfield. Then, the 2019 Brewers looked to move Domingo for a more versatile option in the outfield and find someone who wasn’t so home-run dependent. Ben Gamel, is an outfielder due to the trio of the reigning M.V.P Christian Yelich as well as having a perennial gold glove talent in Lorenzo Cain and the aging but highly paid Ryan Braun. The Brewers traded Domingo Santana to Seattle for Ben Gamel and the lottery ticket pitcher Noah Zavolas.
Through the early part of the season the results of the trade have been as good as you could have hoped with Ben Gamel being able to fill in throughout the outfield. Gamel came over from Seattle with a reputation for strong defense at all three outfield positions and a solid contact bat which he has delivered on (outside of a very uncharacteristic drop in New York). Through 4 MLB seasons he has compiled a .272 batting average and a .728 ops along with a 22% strikeout rate and an 8.4% walk rate, so he does strike out more than you’d like from your fourth outfielder/pinch hitter but he does still walk at around league average and also puts the bat on the ball. Through the early part of the season, Gamel has been the main outfield backup and has logged starts at all three outfield positions, which is something that Domingo just didn’t bring to the table. In the first 54 games and 157 plate appearances, Gamel has logged a .255 batting average with 4 homers and 14 RBI so he is getting his hits even though the power numbers aren’t there.
Let’s face it, the 4th outfield option for the Brewers for the next few years is going to have to be versatile with Lorenzo Cain aging and Ryan Braun needing sporadic maintenance in addition to his usual one or two IL stints. If Ben Gamel is able to lock in the position he is presently under team control through at least 2022. Ben Gamel provides the versatility off the bench that the Brewers have lacked in recent years. Domingo may go on to be a great player in Seattle, but was never going to provide the versatility that David Stearns looks for when he makes up a roster.
On the other half of the trade, Domingo has slid into the starting lineup for Seattle as the everyday left fielder starting 57 of his first 58 games. Domingo has found his power stroke with a slash line of .266/.335/.463 and 42 rbi to go along with 10 home runs. Domingo Santana’s game doesn’t fit coming off of the bench and that was very evident in the 2018 season so the Brewers moved on from him and seem to have found a competent fit in Ben Gamel to fill that 4th outfield position. Even though Ben Gamel isn’t going to bring the power that Domingo does, what he does bring to the table fits what the Brewers need off the bench.