Mariners Dan Vogelbach Shouldn’t Be A Roster Lock
With Mark Trumbo off the market, the Mariners last chance for a major upgrade at first base might have passed. So, the club appears to be set on a platoon with veteran, Danny Valencia, and the young, Dan Vogelbach.
In theory, a Vogelbach/Valencia platoon makes sense. Vogelbach is a skilled rookie, and this team that fancies themselves as contenders needs to protect themselves from having a black hole at first base.
Valencia crushes lefties, slashing .318/.389/.515 against them. His 155 wRC+ against southpaws in 2016 were equivalent to Josh Donaldson. In Layman’s terms: Danny Valencia is as good a hitter as Josh Donaldson against left-handed pitchers.
Vogelbach hit righties more consistently and with more power than he did against lefties. He hit .339/.451/.563 against righties at the Triple-A level in 2016.
So why shouldn’t a platoon of Vogelbach/Valencia be a lock? The answer comes down to roster construction and how to fill out roster spots 22-25.
First of all, Danny Valencia can hold his own against right-handed pitching. His 104 wRC+ against RHP shows he is an average hitter against them, but Vogelbach is not a good defender, so he adds little value on the field.
Let’s assume the Mariners want a four-man bench. Three spots on a bench are already locked: backup catcher, a utilityman who can play shortstop, and a 4th outfielder.
These spots belong to Carlos Ruiz, Shawn O’Malley/ Mike Freeman/ Taylor Motter, and either Gamel or Heredia.
This leaves 1 free spot. Is Vogelbach worth the one roster spot the Mariners have? He is a 1-dimensional player, and that dimension is unproven at the big league level.
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If the Mariners decided against a platoon at first base, the team could keep Heredia and Gamel; both can play good outfield defense, both run the bases well, and both are more proven hitters than Vogelbach.
Perhaps the Mariners could use their 25th roster spot on another bullpen arm? An eight-man bullpen could help protect youngsters Edwin Diaz and Dan Altivila from early overuse in 2017.
Maybe the team wants a more proven hitter on its bench to provide some late-inning pop? Players like Mark Reynolds, Franklin Gutierrez, Pedro Alvarez, or Erik Aybar are still available via free agency.
General Manager Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais seem committed to the platoon, and it is still the most likely scenario.
Next: Omar Vizquel To The Hall?
But we shouldn’t be surprised if Dipoto has one move left in him. His constant obsession with adding depth may not be done just yet, especially if he holds the same worries about Vogelbach as I do.