Surprisingly, Ben Gamel was not traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates before Tuesday’s 6 PM ET trade deadline. Despite this, he should not be playing every day.
The trade deadline was not as busy for the Pittsburgh Pirates as many people thought it would be. On July 22nd they traded designated hitter Daniel Voglebach to the New York Mets for reliever Colin Holderman. Then less than 24 hours before the trade deadline they sent starting pitcher José Quintana and reliever Chris Stratton to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Johan Oviedo and first base prospect Malcolm Nuñez.
One player that was expected to be traded, but was not, was outfielder Ben Gamel. The left-handed hitting Gamel is set to hit free agency after the season, is a good clubhouse presence, has postseason experience, and, at worst, is a strong fourth outfielder. For all of these reasons it was surprise to see Gamel remain a Pirate as the trade deadline came and went.
When Gamel returned from the injured list last month and he once again became an every day player for the Pittsburgh Pirates this was fine. After all, it gave him the opportunity to build up his trade value ahead of the August 2nd trade deadline.
However, now that the trade deadline has come and gone and he was not traded, Gamel should not be playing every day for the Pirates. Instead, these starts and at-bats need to be going to younger outfielders.
Obviously, Bryan Reynolds is going to start in center field every day. Flanking Reynolds needs to be some of the organization’s younger outfielders. First off, the Pirates need to re-add Travis Swaggerty and Jack Suwinski to their active roster. After this, they can go about handling the outfield the way it needs to be handled.
Suwinski has proven he belongs in the majors. When he was demoted to Triple-A last month he was leading all National League rookies in home runs with 14. Between right field and designated hitter, Suwinski should be in the lineup every day.
As for left field, that job should be given to Swaggerty until the end of the season. The former first-round pick has had a strong season at Triple-A and is a center fielder by trait. He could be one of the best defensive left fielders in the league. It is time to give him an extended look.
As for right field or designated hitter, whichever Suwinski is not doing that day, that spot should go to either Cal Mitchell or Bligh Madris. Both have shown positive things in the majors this season and both should get an extended look down the stretch this season.
The rest of the 2022 season should be al about playing for the future, especially in the outfielder where the Pittsburgh Pirates have four rookies who have seen MLB time this season. This, however, does not leave much room for Gamel. While he should be kept around as a good veteran presence and quality extra outfielder, he should not be playing every day down the stretch.