The Pirates have officially made their first free agent signings of 2022 after a transaction freeze prevented roster moves for 99 days during the lockout. One of those moves was the signing of 1B/DH Daniel Vogelbach to a one-year $1M deal that comes with incentives and an option for 2023.
General manager Ben Cherington said Monday that he was confident the team would add some pieces to the roster and he did just that less than 24 hours later. Vogelbach will be counted on this year, and if all goes well, maybe next year too.
Vogelbach has a pretty interesting profile as a hitter, one that fits will in a traditional designated hitter role. He is a low average, high on-base player who draws a ton of walks and doesn’t strikeout as much as you might think. He is capable of showing big-time power as evident by his 2019 All-Star season with Seattle when he blasted 30 home runs. Interestingly enough, T-Mobile Park in Seattle holds similar dimensions in right field as PNC Park (326 feet down the line, 381 feet in the gap).
After a career-high ISO that year of .232, his power numbers have dipped each of the last two seasons, though he didn’t play a full slate of games either year. Vogelbach will get to work again with new Pirates’ hitting coach Andy Haines, who were together in in Milwaukee.
The 29-year old will seemingly find himself in the heart of the Pirates lineup against right-handed pitching. He has drastic splits for his career, with a .798 OPS against righties and just a .511 OPS off of southpaws. 39 of his 49 career home runs have come against righties.
Physically, the left-handed hitter stands exactly 6-foot tall and weighs 270 pounds. His frame limits him to a first base/DH role which is what his role will be in Pittsburgh. With Yoshi Tsutsugo back with the Pirates, both have similar defensive profiles, though I’m expecting we see more of Tsutsugo at first and more of Vogelbach as DH, though they can share roles.
The Pirates desperately needed to add some thump to their lineup after finishing last in both home runs and slugging percentage a year ago. If Vogelbach can resemble what he was in 2019, the Pirates will have a good power source on their hands for the next two seasons.