Sure, both players could contribute should the Mets get there. It’s not hard to envision Vogelbach stepping up to the plate against a right-handed reliever and delivering a 400-foot euphoria bomb into the Citi Field crowd, instantly becoming a postseason legend.
Perez has already played in a World Series, though it came during the strangeness of the 2020 season and he never got an at-bat, just played defense as a late-game substitution. There is absolutely a world where Perez does not make the Mets’ postseason roster. That all hinges on the health of James McCann, Tomas Nido, and maybe Patrick Mazeika. Those three have shared the Mets’ catching duties this year, but McCann and Nido have both gotten dinged up and Mazeika is in the dreaded Quad-A zone, too good for Triple-A but not quite an everyday big leaguer.
The Mets understand that their pair of moves this week are not flashy, not Juan Soto, and not the types of players that whet fans’ appetite for a big deadline move. On Saturday, when asked for a first impression of Vogelbach, who was in the Mets’ clubhouse for the first time, manager Buck Showalter didn’t sound like a man who had just found the gem he was looking for.
“As advertised, as expected,” Showalter said of Vogelbach’s personality. “He’s somebody that’s well thought of in the game, on the field and in the clubhouse. He should be a good fit for us. I like people who don’t take themselves too seriously but take the game seriously.”
Most of Showalter’s preliminary excitement — maybe pleased is a better word than excited — came from the fact that Vogelbach already knew so many players on the team.
“Taijuan [Walker] brought him in there like his escort,” Showalter shared. Walker and Vogelbach were teammates with Seattle in 2016 and 2020.
“So, there were a couple big men in my office.”
Showalter’s responses were probably fitting for a manager who, most likely, just got a platoon bat with no real defensive position. Vogelbach, a left-handed first baseman/DH, has a 33 wRC+ against lefties this year and a 149 wRC+ against righties. Sending him up to the plate against a same-handed pitcher borders on criminal endangerment at this point.
When Billy Eppler discussed the Vogelbach trade on Friday, he hit all the basic points. Good power, kills righties, unbelievable swing decisions. The plate discipline stuff should follow him wherever he goes, but if the power slumps or righties figure him out, Vogelbach quite literally becomes useless.
For Perez, whose career 52 wRC+ means he’s 48 percent worse than the average hitter, Showalter was even more tepid.
“We’ll see, [bench coach Glenn] Sherlock is familiar with him,” Showalter reported. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. He has the potential to help us if we have a need.”
The Mets have several guys who can catch, but none of them have been particularly good hitters this season. McCann, Nido and Mazeika have combined for a heinous .197/.243/.260 slash line entering Sunday’s game with a league-worst 48 wRC+. When they thought Nido, a highly respected defensive catcher, might miss some time, they responded by getting a catcher who’s only marginally better at hitting.
Showalter knows his catchers can’t hit their way out of a paper bag. He put his own spin on the situation by creating the fallacy of depth, pointing to the fact that several players have played the position, which does not mean they’ve played it well.
“I love the depth of it,” he began. “They’ve done a good job defensively, throwing, calling the game, presenting the ball. Offense has kind of come and gone. I thought McCann was getting strength back in his hand and was getting ready to get going again before he had this [oblique] injury. He’s close to going out [on a rehab assignment] too, which is encouraging.”
When it occurred, that oblique problem was expected to keep McCann out until at least late-August, perhaps into September. Rolling with Nido — the pitching staff’s preferred catcher — and some combination of Mazeika and Perez as the backup should keep the Mets afloat for a couple weeks. But unless they want to make the big deal for Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras before the Aug. 2 deadline, they will vie for playoff positioning and perhaps play postseason games with an out penciled next to the catcher’s spot in the lineup. Even if McCann is fully healthy by then, that doesn’t mean his .183 average is going to magically improve.
“Billy [Eppler] and our front office have always been very proactive about seeing the potential need we might have and trying to get ahead of it rather than waiting until it’s there and we’re forced to do it,” Showalter said.
In a different question about Jacob deGrom, and whether the team feels like they’re waiting for deGOAT to show up or if they’ve grown accustomed to winning without him, the skipper gave an answer that could easily be applied to the rest of the roster as well.
“You can’t really operate like that because sometimes that never shows up,” he began. “Sometimes that just doesn’t happen. So then what do you do? I like our guys and what we have. Instead of going, ‘What are we going to do?’ we know we have an opportunity to uncover some other guys that provide depth for us.”
They’ve already gotten started on uncovering some depth externally, and with all due respect to Vogelbach and Perez, they’re not going to do a whole lot to move the needle. Unless more moves are coming, or deGrom can actually come back and turn hitters into dust, the Mets have to push their chips in a little harder.