And the First Domino Falls – Daniel Vogelbach Sent to the Mets for Reliever with Upside and Control

7-23-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Yesterday, right before the game started the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets swung an even up deal of Major League players. The Pirates sent Daniel Vogelbach and the Mets sent Colin Holderman, a right handed reliever with really good stuff, a short sample of success and 6 years of contol.

Let’s start with what the Pirates got first, and then we’ll really dig in on what they lost to pull it off.

Colin Holderman RHP

I’ll tell you what’s known, what’s expected and folks, that’s not much.

The 26 year old was drafted by the Mets in the 9th round of the 2016 MLB Entry Draft. He was originally seen as a Starting prospect and last did so in 2019. His numbers were fine but his pitch mix primarily focusing on his Slider and Sinker are well suited to the bullpen. The Sinker is his main pitch, using it just about 50% of the time, and it’s really good at getting ground balls. He also has an ability to throw it up to 97 MPH which is not always effective for a sinker but this one holds it’s shape.

He’s only amassed 17.2 innings in the bigs so there’s no way to avoid the small sample size argument and I’m sorry, fans being upset in New York means nothing, after all, Pirates fans are upset about losing a guy most of them laughed at being signed and actively hated for half of this young season.

Point is, this is a pitcher with really nice upside and 6 years of team control. His 6’7″ frame makes the shape of the sinker and slider that much more powerful as his natural plane is downhill.

If you want to be worried, and honestly, who doesn’t, before the lost 2020 season he really struggled to gain traction, after the lost 2020 season he found his way, and really hasn’t looked back.

This has potential to be a solid bullpen option, even back end for half a decade, and folks, the Pirates need that sorely.

His AAA assignment won’t last long. With more trades to come, they’ll wait for the rest of the dominoes to fall before deciding who goes where. I’ll get into this later a bit more.

Daniel Vogelbach DH

Here’s what I wrote about this signing back in March.

They’ll list him as an infielder probably but realistically he’s only going to play first base and DH for the club. He’s a very nice compliment to Michael Chavis and Yoshi Tsutsugo with the same skill set even if a bit more tested.

The lefty started his career in Seattle and even made an All Star appearance in 2019 a season that saw him get significant playing time, participating in 144 games and getting 558 at bats he swatted 30 homeruns and his .208 average was mitigated a bit by his 92 walks.

He’d never see that kind of action again topping out with 93 games in Milwaukee last year where he looked to have gotten back to what makes him tick. Hitting the ball hard and racking up walks.

This makes finding a winner for these two spots more likely. Three guys who could all legitimately step in and put one over the fence to fill two spots means extended slumps might be provided some cover.

Vogelbach has signed a one year deal and no, I don’t think it’s a nailed on given that he’s the first baseman. His glove isn’t much better than Yoshi if at all.

Now, I put this in here because I think it’s important to remember what was signed and what was thought of it at the time.

Daniel outplayed my expectations. He hit right handed pitching, hit for power, got on base. Played far less first base than I thought he might and all in all was a plus addition.

He was signed for one year at 800K with a 200K buyout in 2023 or a team option for next season worth 1.5 million. This had most fans assuming the Pirates were trading a guy with a year and a half of control left, but that’s because most ignored that after the option year he still had a year of arbitration, so actually they moved a guy with 2.5 years remaining. Even so, he outhit his contract so if he wasn’t on the hook for the option he probably gets more money than he’s going to.

This guy is universally popular in the clubhouse, and fans after a slow start really grew to like him. Homeruns will do that.

That said, it’s hard to ignore the team has a glut of options for DH despite the first game post trade putting Yoshi back in the spot.

Moving Forward

There’s no denying it, an offensively starved team just moved one of their best hitters, at least facing right handers. I was shocked to see them acquire MLB help, but pleasantly so. The bullpen has been a source of highs and lows this year and to add someone with potential to impact it from the jump will at least lighten the blow from the likely move of Stratton and anyone else they might choose to part ways with.

As to how the DH spot is handled, I don’t think last night’s context is a road map. It may be Yoshi until the team finally does the right thing, but after that I think we’ll see a model I personally prefer for the time being, a spot to just get rest for players, and rotate in hot bats without having to bench another position player. For a team in this stage I much prefer having the spot remain a revolving spot.

All in all, I really liked what Vogelbach provided here, and he blew my expectations out of the water, that said, he didn’t do anything in my eyes that made him untouchable or even someone they should have held onto especially at the expense of passing on a talent like Holderman. He certainly didn’t present a picture of someone the Pirates should believe needs to be here into the middle of the decade.

Say something like “the Pirates traded their second best hitter” and even if I could get to the point where that is a true statement (I can’t), it’s more of a reason to go ahead and make a move than it is to hold on tight. If Danny boy is truly your second best hitter, well, move on.

I’m really interested to see if the Pirates continue to bring in MLB talent in these moves. I could see it especially in the pen but I could also see some strategic AAA moves. It would be great to get a 1B, even someone simply blocked by a stud in MLB, or a catcher. An upgrade to Carter Bins could really be nice to have, the team will have to sign a starter for 2023 already, and while I like what Jason Delay and Tyler Heineman have done here, I can’t deny there is need there.

All in all, good trade, probably for both teams honestly.

Much more to come I’m sure and I’m sure we won’t be sweating some of these out on the 1st. The Pirates don’t have a list of players who are going to get more valuable by waiting, save maybe Jose Quintana. He’ll be a hot name but there are better options that in my mind will have to drop first. He could be a last minute move, brought about by missing on some other options, but I don’t think he’s sparking some bidding war.

Don’t expect a bunch of promotions/demotions either before the deadline. Ben Cherington mentioned acquiring more MLB players in return isn’t something they will be avoiding or seeking per se, so burning options or even 40-man spots isn’t something you’ll see them do until the deadline is passed.

Unfortunately that will mean a team that spends the next week in limbo, and if last night’s game is any indication it’s going to be disjointed badly too. A poor mix of sulking, wondering, worrying, losing friends, losing talent, gaining talent, just a time of transition that most teams go through at this time of year when they’re designated sellers, but as I said yesterday, thinking a 65-70 win team is to be held together is just foolish.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

One thought on “And the First Domino Falls – Daniel Vogelbach Sent to the Mets for Reliever with Upside and Control

  1. I admit I had forgotten Vogelbach had another arbitration year after the option. I know when they signed Octavio Dotel back in 2010, his option changed somehow–I want to say from player to club–but I doubt they do stuff like that anymore.

    Anyway, I still think this was a good time to sell high on an incredibly limited one-dimensional DH. When he’s not hitting homers, his value is essentially zero, and even when he is, the high walk rate isn’t terribly helpful with such poor speed. I’ll take six years of what looks like a solid chance at a full-control back-end reliever with relatively few innings on that arm.

    While I agree Mets fans’ reactions don’t really matter, I’d be more concerned if they were glad to be rid of him. Vogelbach is definitely limited, but he has value.

    Liked by 1 person

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