The Atlanta Braves made what was possibly the smartest move of their offseason today when they released the oft-injured Mat Gamel. Some Braves fans were excited when the team signed Gamel to a minor league deal.
Gamel was supposed to be all that a team could ask for. He was a top 50 prospect in his time with the Milwaukee Brewers and was also considered to be the next player in line at first or third base for the Brewers. However, for a couple of reasons, that never happened.
First off, his health became a major concern when he first tore his ACL. Then, he had to spend the entire 2013 season on the shelf with more trouble with the same knee. When the Braves signed Gamel, they were most likely hoping that he could be a part-time bench bat that could hit a few home runs over the course of the season. However, all they got out of him was another knee injury and they released him before his first season with the team even got started.
Secondly, he never really proved that he could hit major league pitching. In the minors, Gamel lived up to expectations, hitting .304 and a slugging percentage just shy of .500 at .498. He also hit 103 home runs, showing off great power from the left hand side of the plate. In the majors though, he never seemed to get his feet under himelf. He struck out almost 3.5 times per walk, showing not the best plate discipline. Doing so, he only hit a total of six home runs and 29 runs batted in. A problem with Gamel is that he was only able to get 269 total plate appearances, but when he did play, he didn’t put the ball in play enough to keep him job.
The Braves really got away with some cash on this contract. Sure, he may have hit .300 in the minors, but the team isn’t interested in making their AAA the best in the league. They want players from their AAA team that can come up and fill a role in the major league roster and possibly evolve into good players in the bigs. Gamel wouldn’t have been able to hit big league pitching, and with two knee surgeries, he would have been a true liability unless playing some first base behind the All-Star Freddie Freeman.