After putting together a strong season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021, what role could Ben Gamel play for the Bucs in 2022?
In early May the Pittsburgh Pirates found themselves in dire need of outfield help. This led to the Pirates hitting the waiver wire and trade market to look for outfield help. Ben Cherington would then claim Ben Gamel off waivers after he was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians.
Gamel got off to a slow start with Cleveland in 2021. Despite this, Gamel would bounce back offensively with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also expanded his versatility by playing first base in addition to all three outfield spots.
After a strong season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 the question becomes, what role will Gamel play in 2022?
In 383 plate appearances with the Pirates the left-handed hitting Gamel hit for a .255/.352/.399 slash line to go with a 105 wRC+. Gamel hit 8 home runs, collected extra base hits at an 8.3% rate and had a strong 12.5% walk rate.
With the offseason set to kick off with the conclusion of the World Series this week Gamel appears to be in positioned to be penciled in as a starting outfield for the Pirates. Bryan Reynolds will be the team’s center fielder, and, right now, Gamel would be in either left field or right field, likely hinging on who the other outfielder is and who fits each spot best.
Gamel is in position to enter the 2022 season as a starter for the Pirates. He has always had success against left-handed pitching in his career which works in his favor as there is not a need to platoon with Gamel.
Gamel being traded also should not be ruled out. He will become a free agent following the 2022 season and the Pirates are still not in a position to compete yet. A player like Gamel could be valuable on the trade market which could lead to the Pirates listening on offers for him this offseason.
Assuming the Pirates keep Gamel, he will enter the season as a starting outfielder. Even as young outfielders such as Travis Swaggerty, who could crack the Opening Day roster, Cal Mitchell, and Canaan Smith-Njigba arrive in the Majors, there would still be a role for Gamel.
Gamel is good veteran presence and can be a valuable brain for young players to pick. He would also be a strong fourth outfielder, as well as a good player to have around if young players struggle and need time down.
Additionally, Gamel could also be a strong trade chip for the Pirates in July. While a player like Gamel will never be the catalyst for a postseason team, every postseason team has players like Gamel on the roster. Strong on-base skills, good clubhouse presence, always hustling, and playing with reckless abandon, all of these factors would make Gamel valuable on the trade market.