The Pittsburgh Pirates Should Trade Ben Gamel

Photo credit: The Canadian Press

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The youth movement has arrived at PNC Park.  The Pittsburgh Pirates roster has become littered with rookie prospects among some veteran stars.  Rookies like Tucupita Marcano and Diego Castillo are getting to learn the infield ropes from Ke’Bryan Hayes.  And Bryan Reynolds is draped on both sides of the outfield with rookies Cal Mitchell, Jack Suwinski, and most recently, Travis Swaggerty, on any given night.  The pitching staff also has had rookies Roansy Contreras and Yerry De Los Santos inserted in.

However, most of these callups came up on the back of injuries to Pirates that were starting consistently, or meant to be starters, early in the season.  Ben Gamel, Greg Allen, Jake Marisnick, Kevin Newman, Josh VanMeter, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and Roberto Perez are all on the Injured List.  The first three on this list are all outfielders.  So with Mitchell and Suwinski already showing improvement cutting their teeth at the big league level, and Swaggerty hopefully debuting on Tuesday, the outfield grass is getting awfully crowded.

Logically, there is only one move to be made.  The Pittsburgh Pirates must trade outfielder Ben Gamel.

Now, some yinzers, I’m sure, will call into 93.7 the Fan tomorrow morning and say something like, “Yinz think we could package Allen, Marisnick, and Newman, and get that Juan Soto guy from the Nationals?”  Because nothing is more yinzer than thinking a team will want multiple players that we don’t want anymore and trade us something of value.  However, it’s simply not realistic to think that Allen or Marisnick have any real trade value at this time.

Fortunately for the Pirates, Gamel has shown he does have value.  While his .257 batting average does not jump off the page, Gamel does a lot of things well.  He is an above average fielder and runs the bases well.  He has also shown this season that he can provide some timely pop.  I do believe he would garner some attention on the trade market.

Meanwhile, while the Pirates outfield is crowded, the pitching staff is not.  Jose Quintana has been steady all season, but aside from him, there have been many ups and many more downs for everyone else.  It looks like Roansy Contreras is here to stay, and is really something special, but there’s a lot to be desired with the pitching staff as it stands. 

I’d much rather see Suwinski, Mitchell, and Swaggerty, among other youngsters continue to get reps at the big league level than have a 30-year old Ben Gamel come back and take playing time.  Especially if Gamel's return forces one of the rookies back down to the minors.  If the Pirates could acquire a 4th or 5th starting pitcher with some years of control, or even a steady bullpenner, I think it makes more sense for the development of this team than giving time to Ben Gamel. 

Unless the Pirates were going to extend Gamel after this season, which at this point seems unlikely, any time given to Gamel is a waste.  This is not a knock on Gamel.  He was the best outfielder on the team at the time of his injury with how long it took Reynolds to get started.  However, Ben Gamel is not a part of this team’s future.  And what he can bring to this year’s team isn’t going to make it a playoff contender anyway. 

So you might as well make room for developing prospects and get something in return.  With Gamel seemingly having the most value out of himself, Allen and Marisnick, he is the natural one to float out there.  And with GM Ben Cherington’s trades starting to pan out left and right, it’s time to let him make another.

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