According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Mets are exploring the market for some bats as they look to upgrade the often ineffective combination of Dominic Smith and JD Davis in designated hitters. Nationals sluggers Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz, Colorado’s CJ Cron and Baltimore’s Trey Mancini (as previously reported) are in the game.
Metsmerized’s Michael Mayer reported this week that the Mets are also in talks with the Buccaneers over left-hander Daniel Vogelbach, who signed an affordable 1MM contract with a 1.5MM option for the 2023 season. FanSided’s Robert Murray heard the same, although Murray noted multiple teams inquiring about Vogelbach’s availability (and certainly other reported targets for the Mets). Martino described the conversation with the pirates about Ogelbach as “active”.
Vogelbach, 29, will certainly be seen as the platoon leader option for Queens, as he never hit the southpaw well and once again posted an inept .141/.267/.156 batting line. However, while maintaining his qualifying advantage this year, he beat the right-hander on a .260/.365/.532 batting line, hitting 12 home runs, 9 doubles in just 203 at-bats and 3 threes. Vogelbach has long been an effective hitter against right-handers, and he’s not that far from hitting a career-high 30 homers with the Mariners in 2019.
Aside from a strong qualifying job and affordable club options for next year, Ogelbach has some appeal. He comes into the year with just over three years of major league service, meaning even if the club exercises next year’s option – which seems likely, whether it’s the Buccaneers, Mets or other trading partners – he will be in 2024. The season is still manageable. Vogelbach will qualify for arbitration in the 2023-24 offseason and then become a free agent in the 2024-25 offseason.
Bell, 29, is hitting 13 home runs this season on .311/0.390/.504 with a career-low 13.5% strikeout rate and a 10.7% walkout rate. He’s earning $100,000 this season, and while the Nationals may be wary of sending long-term players to division rivals such as Juan Soto, Bell is a free agent at the end of the year, which could eliminate any concerns. Such concerns are seen from Washington’s perspective.
It’s a similar story for Cruz, 42, who is earning 15mm this season and has a common option in the 2023 campaign. However, these rights are rarely exercised by both parties, so players with common options are often considered leases. Cruz is off to a poor start in 2022, but he’s hitting the line at a solid .283/.362/.425 over his last 247 games. He’s only hit six home runs in that span, showing a distinctly uncharacteristic lack of power, but Cruz is still a productive hitter if you’re willing to get off to a slow start this year.
As for Cron, the Mets are understandably interested, but a deal seems unlikely. Even though the Rockies are six and a half games behind the NL’s third wild-card spot in the NL West’s 19-game lead, the organization has opted for years not to deal with candidates that appear to be deals on paper. Denver’s ownership firmly believes that the foundations of a competitive club are in place, as evidenced by the plethora of extensions over the past year (and the surprising signing of Chris Bryant to a seven-year deal).
Just looking at last year’s deadline shows that Cron is unlikely to be moved. The Rockies were in this position a year ago, when Cron was playing on a cheap one-year deal and looked like a slam dunk candidate who could be flipped as a contender. Instead, the Rockies kept him and signed Cron to a two-year, 14.5mm extension. To its credit, Cron has been haggling, hitting .298/.350/.552 with 21 homers this year. That’s excellent performance, but if Rox refused to trade him a year ago when he was a quasi-free agent, it would make sense that they would be further discouraged from trading him now (though the contract might make him less interested in a potential trade). suitors are more attractive). General manager Bill Schmidt said last week that he did not expect to be a major seller this summer.
Any of the names listed here may be an upgraded version of the .219/.300/.368 batting line for the Mets’ designated hitter combination this season. The piece includes a very productive plate of 90 appearances for Pete Alonso as DH, which only underscores how rough the non-Alonso DH option at Citi Field is this season.
As for what will happen to the existing DH options within the Mets, unsurprisingly, it seems like things could change. Smith was just put on the injured list due to a sprained ankle, but could be back in the middle of next week. The Cubs and Red Sox are among the teams that have discussed potential trades with the Mets. Martino wrote that the Mets are “working hard to trade Smith,” adding that Davis could also be moved.
Smith has struggled in 2021-22 after a terrific 2019-20, while Davis has seen a dip in his strength numbers this year, despite an eye-popping rate of exits and battered numbers. Both are manageable for the next two years after this season, which could make them attractive to a club that isn’t a current contender but has the ability to provide Smith or Davis with consistent playing time, while showing better performance than the Mets. Teams are more patient clubs. The competitive environment in the NL East.