Mariners Send Mike Montgomery to Cubs for 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach

marc w · July 20, 2016 at 5:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

With the trade deadline approaching, the M’s made an intriguing trade today, sending left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery to the Cubs in exchange for 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach. The clubs also exchanged high-minors starting pitching depth, with Jordan Pries moving to the Cubs and Paul Blackburn joining the M’s org. SP depth is nice and all, but the deal really centers on Montgomery and Vogelbach.

Vogelbach was drafted in the 2nd round out of a Florida high school, and the Cubs bought him out of a commitment to LSU. While Vogelbach could hit, the pick was somewhat controversial – at the time, Vogelbach was generously listed at 5’11” 280 lbs. A HS player who looked like this in his showcase events is not…it’s not what scouts are used to seeing, or what they LIKE to see. Almost immediately, though, Vogelbach started to slim down, and he’s now listed at 6’0″, 250 – he’s not svelte, but that’s playable.

Despite a huge half-season for Boise in the Pioneer league in 2012, many were still unsold on his overall ceiling – 1B prospects need to hit a ton, and it wasn’t clear how he’d do against advanced pitching with power that isn’t off-the-charts good. Indeed, Vogelbach’s numbers slipped a bit in the Midwest League and Florida State Leagues (two of the tougher leagues for hitters in the minors), but he’s made some key adjustments as he’s risen through the system. He’s having his best season since that 2012 rookie-league breakout this year for Iowa in the PCL, and he’s demonstrated that he doesn’t need 35 HR power to be successful. Vogelbach is a much more complete hitter, with a good sense of the strike zone and the ability to drive the ball against righties and lefties – platoon issues dogged him in the low minors, but he’s slugging .506 against them this year in AAA.

That’s all well and good, but he still doesn’t get great reviews on his defense, which has led people to assume he’d get traded to an AL team for years. The M’s don’t have a DH opening at the moment, but they could rotate him in there as soon as next year, and they could platoon him with the similarly proportioned Dae-ho Lee at 1B. There’s a reason 1B prospects don’t have a ton of value, and there are even more reasons why Vogelbach is often underrated even within the ranks of 1B/DHs, but he’s hitting well enough that he might be a good fit for the organization.

It’ll be interesting to see Mike Montgomery’s role in Chicago. For this year, he’ll bail out a scuffling Cubs bullpen, but with several years of club control left, they may try him in the rotation down the line. The Cubs were reportedly in on Drew Pomeranz, who they planned to trade on for a young starter. That deal obviously fell through, but Montgomery could give them a cost-controlled starter, which might be nice as their payroll swells. That said, their rotation’s already pretty full, as Dave Cameron mentioned today. Jason Hammel’s got a club option for 2017, but I don’t really know why the Cubs would decline it the way he’s pitching. Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester aren’t going anywhere, and Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey have been great, too. All four of them are under contract for 2017. Thus, if Monty pitches well down the stretch, they could trade him again in the offseason if someone wants to make him a starter.

Losing a cheap, cost-controlled player like Montgomery hurts, especially for an old team like Seattle. But there’s something to be said for selling high on relievers in July, when prices are high. Vogelbach is a pretty good get, and while he’s got the ceiling of a 5th starter, Paul Blackburn’s would seem to have more of a future than Jordan Pries. Dipoto’s done pretty well here, as he’s shored up a weakness in the M’s system while leaving the bullpen mostly whole (especially if Charlie Furbush can make it back soon). It’s not a *big* move – I don’t want to oversell it – but it seems fair for both sides, and it opens up a huge opportunity for Vogelbach, who was blocked by Anthony Rizzo and National League rules before. Welcome to the M’s, Dan. Keep hitting, please.


9 Responses to “Mariners Send Mike Montgomery to Cubs for 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach”

  1. Westside guy on July 20th, 2016 6:51 pm

    I’m not crazy about the deal, but it’s not like Dipoto has a lot of valuable trade chips to choose from.

    If the Cubs end up turning Monty into a worthwhile starter, though, this one will hurt.

  2. rightwingrick on July 20th, 2016 7:12 pm

    Why do we need a 1B/DH young guy when we have DJ Peterson at AAA doing the very same thing at about the same age???? And we give up a solid LHP with lots of years of control, a former #1 pick, starting to live up to the hype? I don’t get this trade. There must be something else coming that involves DJ Peterson.

  3. ck on July 20th, 2016 8:05 pm

    Montgomery had no options with the Rays, and Erasmo Ramirez had no options with the M’s, so we acquired Mimo. I think Montgomery is a good pitcher, but I don’t know how the deal evolved. Maybe the Cubs asked for Walker / Paxton, and Jerry offered Karns and some smoked salmon. With Felix back, and hopefully Walker, Furbush, and Vincent to follow, M’s have a temporary surplus of Bullpen arms. Jerry got something for something; and he probably is just getting started…

  4. bookbook on July 20th, 2016 10:49 pm

    This feels like a very good trade to me. Mimo is valuable, but replaceable. Vogelbach represents possibly the only prospective starting position player the Ms have (within a year of impacting the major leagues) and Blackburn adds pitching depth to the org. above and beyond Pries.

    (I like Peterson, but he’s two-years older, and not as good a hitter.

  5. BackRub on July 21st, 2016 12:08 am

    D.J. Peterson still doesn’t look like a starting quality 1B. His k/bb numbers are still bad in. Peterson has to improve that and have success for more than half a season before he would even be in consideration. Vogelbach is, and has always been, a much better prospect. He’s also a lefty, so that is a better fit for our team as Dae-Ho can share some time with him. We needed a long term 1B and we got one for probably the best cost.

  6. drw on July 21st, 2016 10:16 am commentator this am described Vogelbach as a “terrible” athlete — not just mediocre but someone who could not catch a medium pop fly in the 1B batter’s box when playing first, or could not make it first to third on a double (!). So he’s a minus at 1B and may just be a DH.

  7. Westside guy on July 21st, 2016 10:38 am

    Well, I think we already knew (from the “1B/DH” description) he was probably a minus defender at 1B. But I wouldn’t put too much weight (har har) on one person’s stated opinions… unless they’re mine. 😀

    I mean, Dae-Ho Lee was another player who quite a few people felt might not be acceptable at first base. He’s certainly not John Olerud with the glove, but he seems adequate.

  8. stevemotivateir on July 22nd, 2016 5:34 pm

    Why do we need a 1B/DH young guy when we have DJ Peterson at AAA doing the very same thing at about the same age?

    Because D.J. Peterson still has limited experience and hasn’t walked. They needed depth not named Patrick Kivlehan that can replace Lind at a moments’ notice.

    I don’t understand the complaint about team control. They get an extra year with Danny boy, and Blackburn has a better shot than Pries.

  9. stevemotivateir on July 22nd, 2016 5:39 pm

    Is this deal really a head-scratcher? The Mariners had/have several lefties without options; lack 1B depth. The Cubs had no place for Vogelbach; need for a left handed reliever.

    Seems simple enough for me.

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