The culprit of the puzzling decision to keep Daniel Vogelbach in the Mets’ lineup while a disappointing 2023 season was slipping away was revealed this week.
Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that Mets general manager Billy Eppler ordered ex-manager Buck Showalter to put the 30-year-old designated hitter in the lineup despite his inability to fill the role properly despite Showalter’s protests.
“Showalter viewed the DH spot as one that should be used on a rotation,” Puma wrote. “Allowing position players a partial rest while remaining in the lineup.”
But Eppler, who acquired Vogelbach from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the 2022 trade deadline saw it as the left-hander’s job. The problem was that Vogelbach didn’t provide the pop that was needed from that spot in the lineup, first at the end of the 2022 season when he and Darin Ruf’s platoon went wrong. He then slashed just .233/.339/.404 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 104 games this season — production not good enough for a one-dimensional player whose sole responsibility is offensive production.
While the Mets sputtered to the finish line, logical speculation suggested that Vogelbach’s time in Queens was up. But he still has a year under team control before hitting free agency in 2025.
Eppler wasn’t able to admit defeat during the 2023 season and allow Showalter to work in a productive DH system. Will he be willing to cut ties with him in 2024?
Additionally, new Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns also has a history with Vogelbach. While with the Milwaukee Brewers, he acquired him off waivers in 2020.
Both of them — granted it’s Stearns’ call in the end — will decide whether or not to tender Vogelbach a deal next season, though the free-agent market this winter should undoubtedly provide better and more versatile options.