Mets get DH Vogelbach from Pirates in trade for reliever

NEW YORK (AP) — The first-place New York Mets added some much-needed punch at designated hitter Friday, acquiring Daniel Vogelbach from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade for rookie reliever Colin Holderman.

The burly Vogelbach, a left-handed hitter and an All-Star in 2019 with Seattle, was batting .228 with 12 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .769 OPS in 75 games for the rebuilding Pirates.

“We wanted to get an offensive player and we did that in landing Vogey,” first-year Mets general manager Billy Eppler said. “Somebody that’s really excelled against right-handed pitching. We all kind of know that two-thirds of the pitchers we face are right-handed. So he can be a presence in the order.”

The 26-year-old Holderman is 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 15 appearances covering 17 2/3 innings.

“We’re really excited to work with him,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He’s already had some success in the major leagues and he’s someone who will come in and be part of our pitching staff now.”

New York, which began the day with a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL East over defending World Series champion Atlanta, has gotten little production at DH from J.D. Davis and injured Dominic Smith.

Davis, a right-handed hitter, is batting .234 with three homers, 19 RBIs and a .670 OPS in 62 games and 197 plate appearances. He’s made 38 starts at DH, most on the team.

Vogelbach’s arrival probably most directly affects Smith, however, making his future with the Mets uncertain. A left-handed hitter, Smith is batting .194 with no homers, 17 RBIs and a .560 OPS in 58 games and 152 plate appearances. He was demoted to the minors earlier this season in an effort to get his bat going, then later recalled.

Smith was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a right ankle sprain, retroactive to July 17. He’s made 14 starts at DH and 20 at first base to spell All-Star slugger Pete Alonso, who has started 21 times at DH.

With the Mets facing San Diego right-hander Yu Darvish on Friday night in their first game after the All-Star break, left-handed-hitting Travis Blankenhorn was selected from Triple-A Syracuse and started at DH in the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

Opponents are batting just .186 against Holderman during his first season in the majors, and Eppler said it was “really difficult” to part with him.

“In a way we’re going to have rob Peter to pay Paul a little bit,” Eppler said. “Some of the conversations I’ve had with other clubs has given me the feeling that there might be a little bit more robust about the relief markets than the bats. So we had to use this opportunity to do that.”

With the Mets and Braves gearing up for a tight pennant race, Eppler moved aggressively to boost his lineup 12 days before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. New York ace Jacob deGrom and setup man Trevor May are nearing a return from injuries, persuading the GM he could dip into his pitching depth.

“I ran through a number of different iterations to try to not have to yield Colin in this transaction,” Eppler said. “Pittsburgh didn’t have to move the player. They could hold onto him and they had an option for next year and many years of control. So we had to give them ultimately the player that they dug their heels in on.”

The 6-foot, 270-pound Vogelbach signed a $1 million, one-year contract with Pittsburgh in March. The deal included a $1.5 million club option for 2023 with a $200,000 buyout.

Vogelbach, 29, can also play first base. He has an .817 career OPS against right-handed pitchers, and 55 of his 61 major league home runs have come versus righties.

He is a .213 career hitter overall with a .745 OPS in 412 big league games over seven seasons with Seattle, Toronto, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.

Cherington said multiple teams had called about Vogelbach over the past two weeks, and talks with the Mets intensified in the last two days.

“He loves to hit, and he takes it very seriously. That really rubbed off both in the clubhouse and in the dugout on our young players,” Cherington said. “We were very happy with the job he did here and wish him all the best. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

NOTES: After trading Holderman, the Mets recalled RHP Yoan López from Triple-A Syracuse to fill the bullpen spot. He was active against the Padres. … New York signed first-round draft pick Jett Williams, a high school infielder from Texas. Williams was selected 14th overall Sunday, the team’s second pick in the first round. He was at Citi Field on Friday wearing a Mets jersey.

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AP freelance writers Larry Fleisher in New York and John Perrotto in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.

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