The Chicago Cubs have claimed first baseman Mat Gamel off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Gamel was placed on waivers on Wednesday, and will immediately be placed on the Cubs' 40-man roster.
Gamel, 28, missed the entire 2013 season after suffering a second ACL tear during spring training. He last appeared in a major league game in May of 2012, and has been sidelined with knee troubles ever since. In 106 games in parts of five seasons with the Brewers, Gamel is a lifetime .229 hitter with 6 HR and 29 RBI. The former fourth round pick was ranked as the Brewers' second best prospect (and the 34th best in baseball) by Baseball America before the 2008 season, but has never lived up to his potential due to injuries and struggles at the major league level.
Gamel has the ability to play both corner infield spots, and may be able to provide the Cubs with valuable depth is he is deemed healthy heading into next season. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he was surprised that Gamel was not able to pass through waivers.
"A little bit, just because he hadn't played in almost two years," Melvin said when asked if he was surprised by the claim. "I've always said that this game will surprise you at times. The waiver price is only $20,000 so for some teams it's worth taking a shot."
"We didn't want to take the chance with Gamel that he'd have to go back on the DL again."
In addition to Gamel, three other Brewers players were taken off the team's 40-man roster in preparation for the offseason, as infielder Taylor Green, outfielder Josh Prince and right-hander Nick Bucci were outrighted to Triple-A Nashville. Green has the option to become a free agent five days after the World Series, and it is unclear if Bucci or Prince have the ability to decide their own futures as well.