After a quiet few days at the winter meetings, the Atlanta Braves have finally made a move, although it's not exactly the big deal many of their fans would have been hoping for. Corner infielder and former Brewers prospect Mat Gamel will be joining the team on a minor-league deal, as reported by Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet on Friday.
#Braves agree to sign former #Brewers first baseman Mat Gamel to minor league deal per industry source http://t.co/3yZYsLr8tg
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 13, 2013
Gamel has spent almost all of his career with the Brewers but last played in a major league game in May 2012 as a result of a torn ACL. Surgery kept him out for the rest of 2012 and then he suffered the terrible bad luck of re-tearing the repaired ligament in Spring Training this year. The 28-year-old was recently non-tendered by the Cubs after they claimed him off waivers in October.
Despite making his major league debut in September 2008 as a highly-rated prospect (34th on Baseball America's pre-2009 list), Gamel has managed just 269 plate appearances over five seasons. His 2009 showing was promising, with a .242/.338/.422 line over 61 games, but he then fell victim to a shoulder injury prior to the 2010 season and has just 119 big-league PA since. Triple-A has already proven to be of little difficulty for Gamel, with an OPS of almost .900 at that level, but whether he can stay healthy enough to break into the majors is another issue. He also won't be displacing Freddie Freeman, so any playing time in Atlanta is likely to be contingent on the performance of Chris Johnson, who surprisingly almost won the NL batting title while playing the majority of games at third for the Braves in 2013.