The Milwaukee Brewers swapped 26-year-old outfielders today in a deal with the trade-happy Seattle Mariners.
The trade saw Ben Gamel head to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Domingo Santana, with the Brewers also picking up pitcher Noah Zavolas, a young right handed reliever recently drafted out of Harvard.
David Stearns finally moved on from Santana, who struggled in 2018 after a breakout season, eventually losing his starting spot.
Why Trade Domingo Santana?
Logging only 235 total plate appearances in 2018, Santana was largely seen as a disappointment in an otherwise brilliant year for Milwaukee. He was coming off a 30 home run season, finishing with a slash line of .278/.371/.505. He also ranked in the top 15 among all outfielders with a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 127. However, his production fell off in 2018, leading to him getting sent down to the minors and blocked by a talented outfield.
Stearns chose an interesting time to deal Santana, selling low on the young outfielder that still has the tools to replicate his 2017 season. In return, the Milwaukee GM bought high on Ben Gamel and targeted the 18th round pick from the 2018 draft in Noah Zavolas.
The Return Package
Ben Gamel comes to Milwaukee off of a year where he saw just 293 plate appearances but produced relatively well. His wRC+ of 108 is above average, though not eye popping. His most notable contributions came in the form of a .358 on-base percentage and a 13.8% soft contact rate. He doesn’t make much hard contact but puts the ball in play and avoids making easy outs. Gamel slots in as a fourth outfielder and provides flexibility in the ability to slot in at each spot.
The other piece of this deal, Noah Zavolas, is the lottery ticket. He’s about as lottery ticket as they come as its nearly impossible to find a scouting report on him. However, in his first professional season (between High-A and Low-A) he finished with 41 strikeouts in nearly 39 innings. That’s promising from an 18th round pick, along with Stearns mentioning he was targeting him originally during the draft. Yet its still only Single-A ball so there’s not much to garner from Zavolas yet.
Was This A Good Deal?
This trade is an odd one. Sending away an outfielder because you have too many to get an outfielder in return doesn’t make much sense. Stearns defends it by saying Gamel can play multiple outfield positions and provides flexibility. Yet Gamel has consistently been rated as a bad defender (-4.1 the last two years according to FanGraphs defensive rating) and hasn’t had any type of season near Santana’s peak.
Only time will tell if Zavolas and Gamel were worth Domingo Santana. The decision to trade Santana at his lowest point is questionable at best.
Brewers Twitter will be rife with confused Nick Young memes if Santana returns to his 2017 production. Given a starting spot in Seattle, Domingo has the potential to make Milwaukee’s front office regret this decision.