Blue Jays – Daniel Vogelbach and the fight for a spot on the Opening Day roster

Photo credit:© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
1 month ago
The Toronto Blue Jays played a game under the bright lights last night at Steinbrenner Field, the New York Yankees spring training home. Tasked with facing the Yankees ace in Gerrit Cole, the Jays brought a few core players in Santiago Espinal and Daulton Varsho on the road trip although most of the lineup consisted of players fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster, such as Nathan Lukes and Ernie Clement.
Also suiting up in the contest was Daniel Vogelbach, the left-handed hitting first baseman/DH known for his bulky stature and ability to occasionally punish right-handed pitchers. The Blue Jays have Vogelbach in camp on a Minor League deal and so far, he has found himself in half of the club’s spring training games.
The 2023 season was dissapointing for the eight-year veteran, as the Florida product suited up in 104 games for the New York Mets and posted a .233/.339/.404 slash line with 13 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 81 strikeouts to the tune of a .742 OPS, his lowest mark since 2021. He rejoins the Blue Jays after a cup of coffee with the club back in 2020, where he went hitless in four at-bats before being DFA’d.

Daniel Vogelbach is fighting for a spot on the Blue Jays bench

So far this spring, Vogelbach has been swinging the bat well for the Blue Jays.
Through seven at-bats, the 6-f00t slugger has two hits and two walks, with both of his knocks being extra-base hits. He laced a double to right field off of Detroit Tigers southpaw Andrew Chafin earlier in the week and hit a no-doubt two-run home run off 2023 AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole in the first inning last night, sending the ball 370 feet down the right field line. He even added a little bat flip after the knock, drawing the attention of Cole who for some reason needed to say something about others having fun in spring training.
“Yeah, what’s the day? Are we still in February? March 1st? Yeah, he enjoyed that homer… I don’t forget a lot of things,” said Cole to MLB reporter Bryan Hoch following his outing.
Regardless of Cole and his need to gatekeep spring training fun, Vogelbach is in the Blue Jays camp looking for a spot on the big league roster, likely filling in at the DH spot with some first base mixed in between. His bat off the bench could be a benefit as he could split time with Justin Turner in the DH role to play against the left/right-handed pitching matchups, something the Jays lacked last season.
While the sample size is low, Vogelbach is off to a good start with his two extra-base hits while also getting 90+ MPH exit velocity on all but two of his batted balls this spring, both of which were flyouts. He appears to be in a position where he has a legitimate shot at making the Opening Day roster, although he is going to have to fend off some tough internal competition.
Infielder Ernie Clement is also playing well out of the gate, as the right-handed batter has five hits through nine at-bats this spring while putting up exit velocity numbers that topple Vogelbach’s so far. Clement can also play multiple infield positions coming off the bench and is also out of MiLB options, with the Jays potentially not looking to expose the New York product to the waiver wire. He was solid for the Blue Jays last season when Matt Chapman and Bo Bichette were dealing with injuries late in the campaign (.380 average and a .885 OPS through 50 at-bats) and could easily find himself joining the Blue Jays in Tampa to start the year.
Clement isn’t Vogelbach’s only competition either, as numerous other prospects such as Addison Barger, Leo Jimenez, and Orelvis Martinez as well as fellow veteran infielder Eduardo Escobar are also in the mix for the limited space on the Blue Jays bench.
While there are still plenty of spring training games left in March, there is competition brewing for a role on the Blue Jays bench that could see some tough decisions made over the next few weeks.

Tyson Shushkewich is a contributor at the Blue Jays Nation. He can be followed on X or Instagram at Tyson_MLB or reached via email at Tyson_MLB@hotmail.com



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