Tribe Adds Two Outfield Options on Minor League Deals

Cleveland has added to its guest list for spring training, coming to terms on contracts with free agent veteran outfielders Ben Gamel and Billy Hamilton on Thursday.

Gamel’s signing was announced by the Indians on Thursday. News on the addition of Hamilton was not formally announced by the club and was said to be pending a physical, but was first reported by Daniel Alvarez Montes (El ExtraBase). Both contracts are expected to be minor league pacts with invitations to spring training.

Gamel, 28, is a left-handed hitting corner outfielder by trade with some experience at first base and in center as well. He has spent parts of five big league seasons with three different clubs (New York Yankees, Seattle, and Milwaukee), playing parts of each of the last two seasons for the Brewers after coming over from the Mariners in a trade for Domingo Santana (who spent time with the Indians in 2020). Gamel has not been able to replicate the success that he had in solid sophomore campaign with the Mariners in 2017 over the last few years, seeing declines in his power production with a heavy dose of strikeouts (including a career-worst 30.7% in 2020), but he has been able to draw his fair share of walks in his career, averaging a 9.1% rate in his career.

Gamel could be under team control through 2022 through salary arbitration.

Hamilton, 30, will return to Ohio and will finally join an Indians club thought to be interested in his services for a long time. The switch-hitting center fielder could provide depth at the position and speed off of the bench for the club, but his on-going difficulties at the plate will be something for him to overcome. A second round pick out of high school in the 2009 draft by the Cincinnati Reds, Hamilton cracked the big league roster in 2013 and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 after swiping 56 bases. He exceeded that figure in each of the next three seasons as a big burner for the Reds, but struggled to eclipse the .300 mark in on-base percentage while striking out at a rapidly discouraging rate.

His tenure with the Reds ended after the 2018 season and he has bounced around since, signing with the Kansas City Royals that offseason before later being plucked off of waivers by Atlanta in August of 2019. Last season, he signed on deal with the San Francisco Giants, but was traded to the New York Mets in August and was a waiver claim by the Chicago Cubs in September.

During his stints in the Majors in 2020 with the Mets and Cubs, he posted a combined .125/.171/.219 slash with four hits and seven strikeouts in 36 plate appearances over 31 games.

If he makes the roster, Hamilton is set to earn $1 million with nearly $1 million more in incentives.

The two join a growing list of outfield candidates for the coming season in Cleveland. Eddie Rosario presumably has a job locked in left field for the club, but beyond that, there are some question marks. Returning from last season’s club are Daniel Johnson, Jordan Luplow, Oscar Mercado, and Bradley Zimmer. Josh Naylor may factor in some in the outfield as well as first base, with Jake Bauers also in the mix at both spots. Cleveland parted ways with Delino DeShields and Tyler Naquin, two regulars for the club a year ago, during the offseason.

Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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