Let me start this particular Hot Stove Report by saying that I don’t expect them to be occurring quite this often. Normally there’d still be a couple of weeks until a lot starts happening, but for a number of reasons conversations that would be taking place at the Winter Meetings, for example, have taken place earlier this year; well initial conversations anyway.
The first pair of Hot Stove Reports (an unintended “series” name, I guess) which I posted were about players who would be coming to Milwaukee had anything gotten farther along than it currently was at the time I learned of them. (Ricky Nolasco is said to be staying in Miami now while LaTroy Hawkins is still on vacation as of the time I’m writing this.) However, today’s report deals with a current member of the Brewers roster who would be on the move elsewhere.
Here’s what I know…
The Brewers were contacted about the availability of a particular player by a particular team (yes, I’ll name them in a couple of paragraphs) which makes sense for a few of reasons among which are:
- The player is blocked.
- The player is no longer “prospect” age.
- The player is out of options.
- The player has talent but hasn’t been able to realize it here. (“Change of scenery” candidate.)
- The player has some versatility, though that would need to be polished.
The team which did the calling matches up as a trade partner for this player for a handful of reasons which include:
- They could use a potential 1B/corner OF bat.
- They can make use of the Designated Hitter to get this player additional at-bats.
- The player and the team’s GM are familiar with each other.
- The team’s organizational depth is pitching which the Brewers need.
Have you guessed the sides yet?
They are none other than Mat Gamel and Jack Zduriencik’s Seattle Mariners.
Gamel, a 2005 draft pick of the Brewers while Zduriencik was Milwaukee’s Director of Scouting, has had a star-crossed career with the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s been hurt, he’s lied to the front office about being hurt, he’s been out of shape, he wasn’t properly committed to his craft by many accounts, but when he finally got an opportunity with a clear end goal things began to come together.
Tabbed as the Opening Day first baseman for 2012, Gamel appeared to have finally reached the end of a long road and the beginning of another. He hit okay to begin the year and was fielding his position capably when disaster struck him again. Chasing after a foul pop fly, Gamel tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, requiring surgery and resulting in an end to his season.
Normally, you’d think “Rehab, and get back in there next season”, especially given that the closest prospect with a chance to maybe take over at first base was still down in Double-A and hadn’t really gotten on many radars just yet. We know what happened though.
Corey Hart shifted to first, a move Hart previously was on record as saying he was against, and performed surprisingly well defensively while maintaining his usual offensive output. Manager Ron Roenicke said after the season that he preferred to keep Hart at first base full-time going forward. That presents a problem as Gamel has shown throughout his career that he needs consistent playing time in order to hit.
Enter the Mariners. Zduriencik knows Gamel. He was at the heart of picking Gamel in the amateur draft seven years ago. It makes sense that he could still believe in Gamel’s potential at the plate. It is also no secret that the Mariners lack impact bats in the upper levels of their farm system. They could do well with acquiring a guy who could contribute something right away who also is still pre-arbitration, therefore inexpensive, and with multiple years of team control. (Gamel is currently able to become a free agent following the 2017 season.)
And given the need of the Brewers in acquiring pitching, it could be a perfect match if it advances beyond where it stood over the weekend. Gamel needs a chance to play and the Brewers don’t have the opportunity any more to offer one to him.
That being said, the Brewers do need a capable left-handed power bat off the bench which Gamel certainly could be should they retain him. Roenicke would simply have to come up with a way to keep Gamel ready to contribute at the plate.
Thoughts? Would you be willing to move Mat Gamel if pitching was in the return?