Once viewed as the Brewers’ third baseman of the future, Mat Gamel’s injuries and struggles defensively have kept him in the minors far longer than expected when he ranked 34th on Baseball America‘s list of the top prospects in baseball prior to last season.
Gamel got a brief look at third base last season before giving way to Casey McGehee and has spent all of this year in the minors despite continuing to hit well, which is why it’s no surprise that the Brewers announced he’ll start to see playing time as a first baseman and right fielder at Triple-A.
Here’s how assistant general manager Gord Ash explained the decision:
You don’t want to limit your options. I went there three weeks ago or so and we talked about the fact that in order for him to come to the big leagues and get at-bats, he’s going to have a play a few different places. So we’ve gone from the practice to games.
Gamel will still see plenty of time at third base for now, but clearly the Brewers don’t trust his glove enough to view him as a long-term option there and so instead the idea was to prepare him to potentially replace either Prince Fielder and Corey Hart. Now that Hart has signed a three-year extension, Gamel is insurance for Fielder either leaving as a free agent after next season or being traded before then.
Of course, now Gamel’s bat is also somewhat in question since he’s hit a good but not great .283/.367/.467 with 20 homers, 30 doubles, and a 145/65 K/BB ratio in 135 total games at Triple-A. He no longer looks like an elite bat, which is even more of an issue at an offense-driven position like first base or right field.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.
Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.
When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.