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Should the Cubs try to acquire Daniel Vogelbach?

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He’s been a BCB favorite for years.

Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thursday, I posted this article suggesting the Cubs sign Yasiel Puig to be their designated hitter. DH has been something of a black hole for the Cubs this year; their DHs rank 23rd out of the 30 teams in OPS and Victor Caratini, who’s occupied the slot most so far (nine games), has been awful in the role: .167/.200/208 (4-for-24) with eight strikeouts. (Yes, small sample size, I know.)

The suggestion generated some spirited discussion both pro and con, and in the end 55 percent of poll voters said, “Sure, go for it.” But during the discussion the name of an old BCB favorite, Daniel Vogelbach, was brought up. Vogelbach, who was the Cubs’ second-round pick in 2011, was traded to the Mariners in 2016 (along with Paul Blackburn) for Mike Montgomery.

It took a while for Vogelbach to establish himself with the Mariners, but last year he had a breakout season, hitting 30 home runs. Even so, his other numbers were just “okay” — .208/.341/.439. He walked 92 times, which ranked fifth in the American League, but struck out 149 times, 15th-most in the AL.

This year, though, Vogelbach went 5-for-53 (.094) in 18 games and earlier this week the Mariners designated him for assignment. The suggestion was made by BCB’s Tim Huwe that the Cubs could trade Jharel Cotton (also recently DFA’d) for Vogelbach.

There are two problems, in my view, with acquiring Vogelbach:

  • He didn’t hit, at all, in 18 games for the Mariners this year. So was his 2019 season a fluke? Or is this year the fluke?
  • He has zero defensive value. While he’s played some first base in the past, he’s posted -2.3 defensive bWAR for his career, and hasn’t played there at all in 2020. I have seen Vogelbach play first base before (Cubs spring training). He was bad then, and cannot have gotten any better at it.

Beyond those two issues, Vogelbach really would be a useful DH only against righthanded pitching. Here are his career platoon splits:

vs. RHP: .213/.342/.436, 104-for-489, 31 HR, 150 strikeouts
vs. LHP: .144/.272/.275, 22-for-153, 5 HR, 53 strikeouts

Cubs designated hitters this year are hitting .179/.289/.282 (14-for-78) with one home run and 34 strikeouts, so Vogelbach vs. LHP would be a downgrade over those numbers. You could really only use him against RHP, and essentially he’d be on the bench otherwise except for occasional pinch-hitting duties. I wouldn’t want to see him in the field — ever.

On the other hand, the price of Jharel Cotton, who never got into a game for the Cubs and who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2017, wouldn’t seem too high. Would the Mariners do this? Maybe; Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto loves to trade and perhaps they think they’d have a spot for Cotton. And money-wise a deal like this might make sense, as Vogelbach is making just barely over the MLB minimum.

Personally, I’d be disinclined to do this because of Vogelbach’s poor performance this year and his limited value (platoon DH). But perhaps you’d do it, maybe Vogelbach comes to Chicago and hits like he did last year.

Would you do it?

Poll

Should the Cubs trade for Daniel Vogelbach?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Yes! Bring him home!
    (154 votes)
  • 49%
    Nope. He’s done.
    (339 votes)
  • 28%
    Meh, don’t care either way
    (197 votes)
690 votes total Vote Now