The Blue Jays acquired Dan Vogelbach from the Mariners on Sunday, and while it may be a confusing move on its own, it could be a precursor to another trade.
Sometimes a trade doesn’t fully make sense unless we have the benefit of hindsight a few days, weeks, or sometimes even months from when it happens. After the Blue Jays announced the acquisition of Dan Vogelbach on Sunday evening, I have a feeling this could be one of those cases.
While the Blue Jays have expressed a desire to add some power to their bench, and Vogelbach could certainly bring that to the table, he doesn’t offer a lot of other useful skills to their current roster. He’s listed as a DH/first baseman, and the Blue Jays already have Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Rowdy Tellez splitting time at those positions, while also cycling others through the DH spot to give them a day off of their feet. Vogelbach is also a very big man, so a position change is highly unlikely.
It’s possible the Blue Jays could be interested in having him as a bat off the bench, but it seems unlikely that they would use a roster spot that way, especially when you could argue that Tellez hasn’t been getting enough regular at-bats. Instead, I’m thinking that it’s a sign that there could be another trade in the works.
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That’s purely speculation on my part, but we do know that the Blue Jays have a stated desire to improve their starting rotation. Lately that upgrade has become more of a need than a want, as they’ve now lost Nate Pearson, Matt Shoemaker, and Trent Thornton to injury for various lengths of time. It’s hard to say who Ross Atkins and the front office may have on their radar, but don’t be shocked if they suddenly view Tellez as a piece they could shop, or include in an offer on a starter.
A secondary possibility could be that the Jays might consider moving Travis Shaw, who has bounced back nicely from his disastrous 2019 campaign, and has been a valuable veteran for Charlie Montoyo this year. He does have one more year of arbitration eligibility in 2021, so I’m not sure if the Blue Jays would move him just yet, especially as he’s taken over at third base for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Had he been the primary first baseman as planned, then it’s likely a different story.
The third, and most unlikely scenario is one that I don’t think will happen, but crazier things have happened. What if the Blue Jays actually used Vlad Jr. in order to upgrade their starting rotation? He could definitely bring back the greatest return, and the Blue Jays don’t seem to be very thrilled with his performance, or even his conditioning this year, but it’s hard to imagine they’d give up on him this quickly. It would have to be an earth-mover of a return coming back.
Lastly, maybe the Blue Jays just saw an opportunity to acquire a 2019 All-Star for next to nothing and decided to pounce. Vogelbach has been dreadful this year, slashing just .094/.250/.226 with two home runs over 53 at-bats, but he did hit 30 round-trippers last season and had an OBP of .341, although his .208 batting average was nothing to write home about.
As a depth piece I suppose he’s fine, but given the way the rest of the Blue Jays roster is constructed, adding Vogelbach is a little confusing. That said, let’s see if we’re saying the same thing in a week from now.