The Pirates announced that Ben Gamel has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a strained left hamstring. The outfielder left last night’s game holding the back of his left leg. Infielder Hoy Park has been recalled to take his place on the active roster.
Claimed off waivers from Cleveland in May of last year, Gamel has been a bright spot on a struggling Pirates team. He started last season in a miserable funk, going .071/.235/.143 while in Ohio. After being claimed by Pittsburgh, he righted the ship and hit .255/.352/.399 the rest of the way for a wRC+ of 105. Through 45 contests this year, his line is .257/.350/.386 for a wRC+ of 113. (Those extra eight points on his wRC+ with a very similar batting line are likely due to the deadened offense around baseball so far this season, as the statistic compares a player’s production to everyone else in the league.)
With Gamel now out of action, this will put a dent in a lineup that was already facing its share of challenges. The team as a whole is hitting .223/.295/.352 for a wRC+ of 86, a mark better than just three teams in the majors (Reds, A’s, Tigers). They’ve also seen many position players head to the injured list, including essentially all of their veterans. Gamel joins Roberto Perez, Jake Marisnick, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Daniel Vogelbach, Kevin Newman and Greg Allen as non-pitchers on the shelf. That leaves the active roster as almost entirely composed of younger and still-developing players. Excluding pitchers, backup catcher Tyler Heineman is the only guy on the team who has been on the planet more than 30 years, while starting catcher Michael Perez is the only one who began this season with more than three years of MLB service time.
Gamel came into this season with over five years of MLB service time, meaning he’s heading into free agency this winter. That gives this injury implications both for him and the team. The Bucs have been in rebuilding mode for years now, meaning that any short-term asset is a potential trade chip, with Gamel certainly fitting that bill. The trade deadline is still two months away, which gives him some time to recuperate and get back on the field before then, though the severity of his injury isn’t clear at this time. For him personally, he will surely be motivated to return to the field and demonstrate his health and abilities before hitting the open market in search of free agent dollars.