Report: Brewers, M's talked Gamel for Morrow

FoxSports.com says that the Brewers and Mariners had discussions this winter about a trade that would send right-hander Brandon Morrow to Milwaukee for third baseman Mat Gamel. The talks didn’t move forward, according to the report, but it cited a source saying the idea could be revisited later. 

There are a number of reasons why such a swap could make some sense:
  • The Mariners have needs at first base, third base and designated hitter, and while they could always bring back free agents Russell Branyan for first and Adrian Beltre for third, Gamel could be a fit at any of those spots. 
  • Gamel had a down year in 2009 as he bounced between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville, but Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is well aware of his offensive talents because Zduriencik is the one who, as Brewers amateur scouting director, drafted Gamel in the fourth round in 2005.
  • The Brewers’ need at third base was eased last season by the emergence of Casey McGehee, who didn’t begin playing every day until mid-May but still managed to lead all Major League rookies with 66 RBIs. At the moment, McGehee, who is under club control for five more seasons, is penciled-in as the starter, and Gamel seems more likely to return to Triple-A Nashville. 
  • The Brewers remainon the lookout for pitching, and Morrow fits the mold of what Melvin might be seeking. Morrow is still one season away from qualifying for arbitration, giving him four years of club control before free agency. The Brewers are running out of payroll space after signing a slew of free agents in the past two weeks, so any subsequent additions would have to be affordable. 
  • Perhaps Morrow is more available now that the Mariners have acquired Cliff Lee in the blockbuster, three-team trade with the Phillies and Blue Jays. The deal gives Zduriencik a pair of aces — Lee and right-hander Felix Hernandez — atop the starting rotation. 

Both teams have said publicly that they are not inclined to trade either player. Melvin was especially strong in that stance with Gamel prior to the 2009 nonwaiver trade deadline, when Gamel and fellow prospect Alcides Escobar drew interest from clubs. 
McGehee’s emergence may have eased Melvin’s “hands off” stance on Gamel, but there is at least some concern about McGehee’s right knee. After playing through pain all season, he had arthroscopic surgery in October to remove loose bodies from the joint, but assistant GM Gord Ash said the procedure offered no guarantees that McGehee won’t have more problems in the future. Gamel could provide some quality insurance. 
Then there’s the matter of whether the Brewers would part with one of their top prospects for Morrow, 25, who has started only 15 of his 131 appearances for the Mariners over the past three seasons and is 403 with a 4.42 ERA in those starts. The Brewers’ bullpen is all but set, so they would almost certainly view Morrow for the starting rotation.  
Gamel is currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. In his first 10 games he was hitting .229 with a home run and four RBIs. He was 0-for-3 on Thursday but walked and drove in a run.
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