Mets Beef Up Their Roster With Daniel Vogelbach and Michael Perez

Daniel Vogelbach
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In what has been a relatively quiet July so far on the trade front, the Mets made two minor trades over the weekend, both with the Pirates. First, they picked up designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach in return for reliever Colin Holderman. In a separate transaction, Pittsburgh also sent catcher Michael Perez to Queens in return for the team’s favorite kind of player: cash.

As a power-and-walks hitter without much defensive value, Vogelbach was not a favorite of prospect-watchers, but the internet at least partially fell in love with him due to his Rubens-esque proportions. While his major league career hasn’t exactly resulted in any Large Adult MVP memes, he’s established himself in the big leagues as a power-hitting DH, albeit one with a fairly limited role. You don’t want him in a game against a left-handed pitcher, and ideally, you don’t want him standing in the field with a glove, either. If you need a part-time DH who can also come off the bench and ruin a right-handed reliever’s evening, though, then Vogelbach is your man. His .228/.338/.430 triple-slash in Pittsburgh is hardly eye-popping, but in 2022, that’s enough to get you a perfectly serviceable wRC+ of 118.

As a Met, Vogelbach’s line should look even better than that, as he’s joined a team that has less of a reason to let him face lefties. With an extremely thin roster, the Pirates started him 14 times against left-handed starters, about 40% of the time. They had no lefty-masher on hand to serve as a complement to Vogelbach, and when he wasn’t starting, they regularly turned to Yoshi Tsutsugo, another left-handed hitter, or used the position to rest other players. The Mets, on the other hand, are quite content to use J.D. Davis against lefties — he’s started all 35 games against them — and appear to have finally decided that his best position is DH. If Dominic Smith had been hitting at all, a trade like this would not have been necessary, but with a .560 OPS this year after last year’s .667, the team is basically at wits’ end when it comes to getting consistent production out of him. I’d actually be surprised if Smith is on the roster after the deadline, and at this point, a divorce may be best for both parties.

In return, the Mets give up Holderman — actually a surprisingly steep price for a part-time DH. Usually, contending teams give up lower-level prospects for role players rather than someone contemporaneously contributing to the team. For example: Coming off a stint in Seattle during which Vogelbach was basically the same player he is today, the Blue Jays picked him up from the Mariners for cash in 2020, and the Brewers got him on waivers a week later. The fastball-slider Holderman shot through the minors quickly after being moved to the bullpen a few years ago and had been effective in that role for New York, hitting the upper-mid 90s with his fastball and with a 2.27 FIP in 15 appearances. For our Mets prospect list, my colleague Eric Longenhagen described him as a player who “projects as the third banana in a contending team’s bullpen.” Given that Holderman was third in WAR among full-time relievers in a contending Mets bullpen, one could say the foretold prophecy has already come to pass. Manager Buck Showalter hadn’t been using Holderman in high-leverage situations, so one could argue that it doesn’t matter too much, but my gut tells me that there’s going to be a time when the Mets will wish they had him on the roster.

The Pirates celebrated Jacob Stallings winning his first Gold Glove award by trading him a few weeks later to the Marlins because of, well, let’s just say, the “usual Pirates reasons.” Perez was claimed on waivers after the 2021 season and stepped in as the team’s discount version of Stallings — better, even, as Stallings hasn’t hit at all in Miami; Perez actually has the higher wRC+, 47–40. For the Mets, Perez is basically a quick emergency depth option, as James McCann is still out with an oblique injury, and Tomás Nido is still Tomás Nido.

Neither Vogelbach nor Perez drastically alters the state of the NL East race; the Mets will need to make weightier moves to shake up those projections. But these acquisitions are a sign that they’re trying to buff the edges of the roster as they prepare for the homestretch.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

31 Comments
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David Kleinmember
1 month ago

I really like Vogelbach as he kills righties he put up a 146 wRC+ this year against them and has a career wRC+ of 123 vs righties. That said, I was very surprised that it took Holderman to get him as I was very impressed by Holderman’s stuff this spring and he’s pitched very well since coming up getting strike outs and grounders at good rates and imo is better and more trustworthy than Smith, a declining Lugo and really everyone in the pen not named Diaz or Ottavino. The Pirates did very well in this trade but the Pirates sending down Holderman to get service time back is a very weak move.

CC AFCmember
1 month ago
Reply to  David Klein

Also surprised, but also in a “why him, specifically?” kind of way. Holderman seems very useful to the Mets, especially when you need all the power relievers you can get in the postseason. And conversely, a fully actualized reliever seems like not the ideal kinda thing for the Pirates to target. Feels like both teams would have had an incentive to find someone else as the return there.

sogoodlooking
1 month ago
Reply to  CC AFC

Mades me wonder if the Pirates were startled by the offer from the Mets and grabbed it, fully intending to flip Holderman. But then sticking him in the minors goes against that theory so it could be the Pirates simply knew they were getting much the better of it, made the deal, then evaluated. Still, sticking him in the minors now is a D- move.

David Kleinmember
1 month ago
Reply to  sogoodlooking

Eppler says the Pirates were insistent on Holderman and he tried his best to keep him out of the trade but you know. The Braves were reportedly in on Vogelbach too.

Last edited 1 month ago by David Klein
sogoodlooking
1 month ago
Reply to  David Klein

Thanks, DK! That shines useful light.

Last edited 1 month ago by sogoodlooking
eph1970member
1 month ago
Reply to  sogoodlooking

The buzz was that multiple teams were in on Vogelbach. That probably explains the price.

jmb2171member
1 month ago
Reply to  David Klein

Vogelbach seems to be a very good addition for a playoff team where his typically excellent PAs against RHP can swing a short series.

jmb2171member
1 month ago
Reply to  David Klein

I think they sent him down to avoid DFA’ing a current reliever but it could be service time as Holderman would qualify for Super Two if he wasn’t sent down. To manipulate Super Two for a reliever seems excessive even for the Pirates; we’ll see after the deadline because I think if he’s up next week he’ll still be in line for Super Two.

It’s also possible that he’s dealing with a minor health issue (believable given his history) and they want to be sure he’s fully healthy before putting him in a major league game.

kozy21
1 month ago
Reply to  jmb2171

That’s exactly why they sent him down. They are actively trying to trade a reliever or 2 and every reliever with the club is out of options so they would need to DFA. He’ll be back up after August 2.