Bucs DFA vet Todd Frazier: 'It's unfortunate'

Veteran outfielder Gamel (claimed off waivers from Cleveland) activated

May 10th, 2021

The Pirates cleared one of the longest-tenured MLB veterans from their roster on Monday.

was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh ahead of Monday’s game against Frazier’s former club, the Reds. The move was made as a corresponding transaction for outfielder , who was claimed off waivers from the Indians. Gamel was activated for the series opener against Cincinnati but was not in the starting lineup.

“Unfortunately, when you acquire people, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions on your roster,” manager Derek Shelton said. “Today, we had to make that decision.”

Frazier did not crack the Pirates’ Opening Day roster despite hitting two doubles and three homers in 12 games this spring. The 35-year-old corner infielder was called up on April 22 after a spot was cleared with Anthony Alford’s DFA, yet he hasn’t been able to demonstrate the same pop he’s shown over the course of his 11-year MLB career. After Frazier collected two hits in Sunday’s 6-5 win over the Cubs, his batting average moved up to .086 (3-for-35) with one double.

“It’s unfortunate because Todd was great here,” Shelton said. “He was great in Spring Training with our group. He was great when he came back up, was with us as a taxi [squad] member and then got activated.”

Since regular first baseman Colin Moran is on the 10-day injured list, the Pirates will need to be creative to fill in for Frazier’s natural fit at first. With a surplus of outfield options for the time being -- including Wilmer Difo, Ka’ai Tom and now Gamel -- Phillip Evans is the primary option to move to first base, where he made his third start this season on Monday. Shelton said Erik González, who has not played first base in the big leagues since 2018, will also get consideration.

“Any guy that can play, especially on the other corner, has the ability to do that,” Shelton said. “Especially with Gonzo’s baseball smarts, I don’t feel like it’ll be an issue at all.”

Gamel saw just 14 at-bats this season with Cleveland, with a double as his only hit. When he makes contact, he spreads the ball fairly evenly to all fields. Gamel has a career .195/.261/.390 line at PNC Park in 14 games.

“What I like about him is this guy’s a gamer,” Shelton said. “He gets after it. ... That’s the one thing that really stands out to me is the way he plays. A lot of energy. [We're] looking forward to adding him into our mix.”

Stokes debuts
made his MLB debut in Chicago on Sunday, and though he went 0-for-4, he made an impact out of the gate.

The speedy outfielder forced a bad throw on a chopper to Cubs shortstop Ildemaro Vargas in the first inning that drove in the Pirates' fourth run in a 6-5 win, though he wasn’t credited with an RBI or a hit on the error.

Stokes also showed his fielding prowess, which led to a Minor League Gold Glove Award in 2018 while in the Brewers’ system. He ranged toward the foul line in right field, which straddles the wall at Wrigley Field, yet adeptly slid and avoided contact with the structure to rob Kris Bryant of extra bases in the sixth inning.

“As soon as he hit it, I knew it was going to be close,” Stokes said. “Peeked at the wall again, and I was like, ‘All right, I can catch this.’”

The best part of Stokes’ day? His parents, Troy Sr. and Lawanya Stokes, were able to catch a flight from Baltimore around noon ET and get to Wrigley Field in time for the last few innings. It all came together as quickly as how Stokes found out he was going to be a big leaguer.

On Saturday, Stokes was told that he was being added to the taxi squad, so he flew in from Iowa, where Triple-A Indianapolis was playing a series. But a taxi squad move for one day? Stokes knew something was up.

When Shelton told Stokes on Sunday morning that he was going to make his debut, it was a special moment, made even more so by the fact it was happening on Mother’s Day. Stokes said he hit a homer in the spring on his mom’s birthday, then she and his dad were able to catch the game and share a hug afterward.

“When they told me yesterday that I was going up for the taxi squad, I was like, ‘OK, well it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow. That would be pretty cool if I debuted. It would be a pretty sweet gift for my mom,’” Stokes said. “So yeah, it worked out and she got to see me play.”