The Padres are acquiring minor league outfielder Ben Gamel from the Rays, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (Twitter link). Tampa Bay receives cash in return, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter).
According to the transaction log at MLB.com, the veteran outfielder was assigned to Triple-A El Paso. Gamel will not immediately occupy a spot on the 40-man roster, as he’d signed a minor league pact with Tampa Bay over the offseason.
The 31-year-old Gamel has had a strong season in Triple-A Durham with the Rays, hitting .276/.402/.463 (120 wRC+) with eight homers, 12 doubles, a triple, four steals, a huge 16.8% walk rate and a 22.8% strikeout rate in 250 plate appearances. He’ll give the Friars an experienced veteran bat who could be up in the Majors and help in a corner outfield spot sooner than later.
Gamel has seen Major League time in each of the past seven seasons, dating back to his 2016 debut with the Yankees. He’s a lifetime .253/.333/.385 hitter (97 wRC+) in just over 2200 plate appearances, and while he’s typically been light on power — career-high 11 homers, .132 career ISO — he’s drawn walks at a strong clip for the majority of his big league tenure (10.2%).
Looking at his career as a whole, Gamel’s track record against right-handed pitching is roughly average. That’s skewed somewhat by some shaky performances earlier in his career, however. Dating back to Opening Day 2021, Gamel carries a solid .255/.351/.408 slash against right-handed pitchers — about 12% better than league-average after weighting for his home park and league run-scoring environment, by measure of wRC+. During that time, he’s walked at a stout 13.9% clip in platoon matchups.
The Padres have a righty-heavy lineup and have gotten negligible production out of a thin bench group this season. Their reserve options off the bench currently include catcher Austin Nola and infielder/outfielder options Rougned Odor, Brandon Dixon and Matthew Batten. Odor is the only lefty of the bunch, and his .212/.307/.371 batting line (91 wRC+) in 150 plate appearances hasn’t been much to write home about. Gamel could be a veteran option to step into a bench spot, and if the club eventually decides to reduce struggling Matt Carpenter’s role or move on from him entirely — the 37-year-old is hitting .173/.300/.314 — then Gamel could have a clearer path to some DH or corner outfield at-bats.