The Pirates have claimed outfielder Ben Gamel off waivers from the Indians, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was among those to pass along (Twitter links). To create space on the 40-man roster, righty Michael Feliz was designated for assignment.
Gamel signed a minor-league contract with the Indians over the offseason and earned an Opening Day roster spot with a productive Spring Training. The 28-year-old couldn’t carry that over into the regular season, though, going just 1-17 with three walks and six strikeouts before Cleveland moved on. Tough start to 2021 notwithstanding, Gamel has been an acceptable role player for much of his MLB career. Also a former Yankee, Mariner and Brewer, the left-handed hitter has managed a .259/.330/.385 line (95 wRC+) over parts of six major league seasons.
The Pirates have cycled through a handful of outfielders in the season’s first month-plus. Dustin Fowler and Anthony Alford were quickly waived after terrible starts, and the Pirates are currently without Gregory Polanco due to a COVID-19 protocol violation. General manager Ben Cherington did say this afternoon on 93.7 The Fan that the Pirates expect Polanco back shortly (h/t to Mackey). Left fielder Bryan Reynolds is currently day-to-day with lower body soreness (via Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic), so Gamel will add some depth to a shortened outfield.
That outfield shuffling comes at the expense of Feliz, who joined the Pirates as part of the Gerrit Cole trade. The 27-year-old reliever has tossed 113 1/3 innings of 5.00 ERA ball since, mostly between 2018-19. Feliz has only allowed three runs (two earned) through 7 2/3 innings with quality strikeout and walk rates, but he’s been fortunate to not allow a home run despite a paltry 13.6% grounder rate. The Pirates have a week to trade Feliz or expose him to waivers, where his affordable $1MM salary could appeal to a rival club.