The New York Mets finally did it. It took Billy Eppler stepping down from the general manager role for the Mets to move on from Daniel Vogelbach. He was one of five players the team didn't tender a contract to. Certainly worth celebrating for a variety of reasons, the next step is to find a way to fill the now vacant roster spot.
Because Vogelbach’s role with the Mets was a bit unique in the worst way (a DH who doesn’t hit against lefties?), finding a direct replacement is unnecessarily dumb. However, a left-handed bat on the bench who can give them regular DH at-bats, does seem like a logical addition for the ball club to make.
There are obvious candidates like Shohei Ohtani out there. What about some of those lower-cost options available in free ageny? Let’s explore those guys who can help round out the roster without costing a fortune.
1) Brandon Belt
The longtime San Francisco Giants first baseman and occasional left fielder is coming off of a really good year with the Toronto Blue Jays just one season after he looked cooked in San Francisco. He played last season making $9.3 million for the Blue Jays and should be in the market to make around the same, if not maybe more this year.
Belt slashed .254/.369/.490 in 404 plate appearances for the Blue Jays. He hammered 19 home runs and added 23 doubles. If there’s one thing to fear it’s the 34.9% strikeout rate.
The Blue Jays barely played Belt versus lefties with only 39 of his 2023 plate appearances coming versus southpaws. Against righties, he hit a cool .256/.375/.515. In the limited action against lefties he wasn’t overly outmatched. Belt still batted .235/.308/.265.
Around $10 million might be a bit much for Belt if he is indeed limited to facing mostly righties and playing first base. He is probably the most direct replacement for Vogelbach in terms of what the Mets wanted from him during his year and a half with the team. Some other free agents out there could be more affordable than Belt.
Verdict: If the Mets are looking for a left-handed hitter for the bulk of DH at-bats, Belt is the guy to get. It’s not the most desirable and yet it does open the possibility of pairing him with a variety of right-handed hitters.