Daniel Vogelbach will get another chance to find his power-hitting production from a year ago at the major-league level.
After designating the All-Star for assignment Wednesday, the Mariners reached an agreement to send Vogelbach to the Toronto Blue Jays late Sunday evening in exchange for cash considerations.
Vogelbach was the Mariners’ lone representative at the 2019 All-Star Game and it was largely due to his production in the first two to three months of the season and the requirement that every team has a representative.
Mired in a prolonged slump dating back to late June of last season with minimal signs of improvement, and actually decreased production in the shortened 2020 season, Vogelbach became expendable. It forced the Mariners to make a decision on what they wanted to do with the roster spot and the designated hitter role moving forward in this rebuild process. The opportunity to get more prospects at-bats became more important than Vogelbach finding his way out of a slump and adjusting to the flaws that pitchers had exposed.
Vogelbach’s failures at the plate, particularly against left-handed pitchers, and his lack of another position besides DH produced a simple question with an obvious answer: Why would the Mariners continue to carry a slumping platoon designated hitter with no defensive value?
He came into Wednesday with a .094/.250/.226 slash line in 18 games and 64 plate appearances. He had just five hits — two homers, a double and three singles in 53 at-bats — with four RBI, 11 walks and 13 strikeouts.
“Vogey is kind of locked in (to one spot),” manager Scott Servais said in a video conference call Wednesday. “We tried to play him some at first base last year, not his strength. His strength is in the batter’s box and hopefully hitting it over the fence. He doesn’t bring a whole lot other than the bat. When the bat’s your big carrying tool, you have to hit. It’s a do-good league. Where we are at right now, we’re just going to give some of those at-bats and opportunities to some other players.”
The decision was made easier when Vogelbach showed up to summer camp after the baseball shutdown about 20 pounds heavier per Mariners sources. The organization was also frustrated by what it perceived to be a level of inactivity during the shutdown months, sapping his bat speed while his body was slow to react to daily baseball activity.
Vogelbach started last season as a bench player behind Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce, who were later traded. Vogelbach was inserted into the lineup in early April with Encarnacion injured and hit his way into daily playing time. He slashed .244/.379/.519 with 11 doubles, 20 homers and 48 RBI over the first three months of last season (79 games played) with a minor slump in May. The mammoth homers called Vogelbombs and Vogelblasts, his every-man build that was more construction worker than athlete earned the nickname “Large Adult Son” and others while his personality helped him to achieve cult hero status with fans and even Servais, who said he was on the Vogey-train.
But not only could Vogelbach not sustain it, he cratered in the second half.
From July 1 to the end of the season (65 games played), he posted a .162/.290/.338 line with six doubles, 10 homers, 28 RBI, 36 walks and 78 strikeouts.