There was speculation that the upcoming Christmas holiday would spur some player movement around baseball, and that is certainly proving true for our Milwaukee Brewers. Yesterday the club reportedly signed Corey Spangenberg to a one-year deal, and this evening it is being reported that Milwaukee is closing in on a deal that would send Domingo Santana to the Seattle Mariners:
Mariners are working to finalize a trade for outfielder Domingo Santana of the Brewers. Medicals need to be checked.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) December 21, 2018
Sounds like Ben Gamel and Noah Zavolas are part of the return to Milwaukee for Domingo Santana. @RyanDivish had Santana first.— Corey Brock (@CoreyBrockMLB) December 21, 2018
Domingo Santana, 26, looked like he was on his way to becoming a fixture in Milwaukee for years to come after his breakout season in 2017. That year he .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs and 15 steals in 607 plate appearances, but Santana’s production cratered in 2018 after the acquisitions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. He began the year as Milwaukee’s Opening Day right fielder, but a mysterious loss of power ended up leading to a lengthy exile to the minor leagues. Santana came up and had some nice pinch hit appearances in September, but he ended the season with a .265/.328/.412 slash with just five home runs in 235 plate appearances. That was good for only a 97 wRC+ and 76 DRC+. Santana is out of minor league options and is projected to make about $2 mil in his first season of arbitration eligibility, but was without a clear role with the Brewers going forward.
In return for Santana and his three remaining seasons of club control, the Brewers will reportedly receive two players. One is a name that should be familiar to Milwaukee fans - Ben Gamel, the younger brother of former Brewer Mat. The 26 year old has appeared in parts of three major league seasons since debuting in 2016 and has been relatively productive, batting .269/.331/.392 with 13 home runs in 900 plate appearances, which translates to a 100 wRC+ and 87 DRC+. He doesn’t grade out very well on defense, with most of his experience coming in the outfield corners with a few additional appearances at center field and first base. The left-handed hitter will make the league minimum in 2019, has four more years of club control, and also has a minor league option remaining, which is flexibility that makes him a much more valuable and versatile bench piece for the Brewers than Domingo.
Milwaukee will also receive a pitching prospect in the deal, 22 year old right-hander Noah Zavolas. He was an 18th-round pick by the Mariners in last summer’s draft out of Harvard and scouting information is scarce, but he did post some promising results as a multi-inning reliever in Class-A ball. He appeared in 19 games and tossed 38.2 innings between Class-A Everett and Class A-Advanced Modesto, compiling a 3.03 ERA with 41 strikeouts and just 11 walks for a DRA- of 86.
Noah Zavolas: 18th round senior sign out of Harvard. No-no'd Yale in April. Velo ticked up senior year, was 88-91 with movement, above-average changeup, two below-avg breaking balls.— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) December 21, 2018
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus
The Brewers have acquired OF Ben Gamel and RHP Noah Zavolas from Seattle in exchange for OF Domingo Santana. pic.twitter.com/VIt8RIEvtm— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 22, 2018
David Stearns mentions "flexibility and versatility" in making this trade. Ben Gamel has an option, four years of control, bats left-handed and can play all three OF spots. Santana was out of options.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 22, 2018
Stearns said the Brewers targeted Noah Zavolas, the Minor League pitcher in the deal, in the Draft but Seattle got to him first. Zavolas is a Harvard man.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 22, 2018