What are the Blue Jays getting in slugger Daniel Vogelbach, and where does he fit on the team’s roster?

Photo credit:© Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Snodgrass
2 months ago
While everybody was relaxing and enjoying their Friday evening, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was again working the phones. Shortly after adding veteran infielder Eduardo Escobar to a minor-league contract, the Blue Jays also came to terms with another former New York Met, as they added slugger Daniel Vogelbach to the mix.
Is this a good addition? Where does Vogelbach fit on the team? By bringing in Vogelbach on a minor-league contract, the Blue Jays are taking no risk. If he has a strong Spring Training, they can find a spot for him on the 40-man roster. If not, they can send him to Triple-A Buffalo as call-up depth throughout the season.
Vogelbach slashed a .233/.339/.404 line over 319 plate appearances with the Mets last season and slugged 13 dingers and drove in 48 runs. He made all but 16 of those plate appearances against right-handed pitching and will surely be used in a similar role if he makes the Blue Jays this year. He could form a strong platoon at the designated hitter spot with the right-handed Justin Turner and give the Blue Jays a late-game pinch-hitting option who can hit the ball out of the yard.
With Vogelbach, his significance to the Blue Jays is a veteran depth bat-first option who had some really good peripherals. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, he would have had well above average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, chase percentage, whiff percentage, and walk percentage. This means that he can hit the ball hard, avoiding swings and misses, all the while drawing walks at an above-average mark. This is the type of player the Blue Jays badly lacked last year. 
One weird thing about Vogelbach as a hitter is that he does not grade out well over the heart of the zone, but great everywhere else. He swings less often there than the average player by a large margin within the heart. His whiff percentage was below average here but he also does not chase pitches in the shadow zone either. His production in wOBA and Slugging was below average in 2023 in the heart. He went from swinging there around 60 percent of the time for the first three years of his career but is now decidedly just above 50 percent. All the while, the balls pulled were extremely hard (100 mph), which puts him in the same category as Yordan Alvarez and Mike Trout!
There will be competition for Toronto’s left-handed bench slugger role this season and Vogelbach doesn’t bring anything on the bases or defensively, so he needs to hit to stay. Also competing for the same role is Spencer Horwitz, who got his cup of coffee at the big league level last fall and fared pretty well, as he posted a 106 wRC+ across 15 games with the Blue Jays.
Horwitz posted excellent numbers with the Bisons last season, as he slashed a .337/.450/.495 line with 10 home runs and 30 doubles and more walks than strikeouts. Given those numbers, it’s difficult to suggest Horwitz has anything to prove in Triple-A anymore, though it’s still possible he winds up in Buffalo, considering he has minor-league options available.
However, a trade in this circumstance might make more sense, perhaps a deal similar to the one we saw back in 2021 when the Blue Jays moved Rowdy Tellez to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitchers Trevor Richards and Bowden Francis. At the same time, from the front office’s point of view, why even trade a young bat like Horowitz if he has options? The deal would need to be made to increase Toronto’s depth elsewhere on the roster rather than being a trade for the sake of opening a spot on the 40-man roster. 
In conclusion, while bargain-bin hunting is never sexy, there’s also no such thing as a bad minor-league deal. Vogelbach was a solid platoon power bat for the Mets last season and he gives the Blue Jays some insurance in case one of their young players isn’t ready this year.


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