Trade deadline season arrived Friday night with what the Mets hope will be a bang.
They acquired designated hitter/first baseman Daniel Vogelbach from the Pirates for rookie reliever Colin Holderman, who had impressed in his first bits of major-league action.
“We wanted to get an offensive player in here,” general manager Billy Eppler said. “We think we did that in landing Vogey, somebody who has really excelled against righthanded pitching. We all know that two-thirds of the pitchers we face are righthanded, so he can be a presence in the order.”
In a season in which they have managed to score plenty, the Mets have gotten just a .662 OPS from their designated hitters, tied for 24th in the majors at the time of the trade.
Vogelbach, a journeyman lefthanded hitter expected to join the Mets on Saturday, is hitting .228 with a .338 on-base percentage and .430 slugging percentage this season. He has been particularly good against righthanded pitchers: .260/.365/.532.
Vogelbach in effect fills the role of lefty-hitting DH previously held by Robinson Cano (cut in May) and Dominic Smith (injured list with a sprained right ankle).
The Mets have Vogelbach under team control through 2024. His contract includes a $1.5 million option for 2023.
The team’s other area of need: the bullpen, which makes the Mets’ cost in the trade a bit of a surprise.
Holderman, 26, impressed team decision-makers during spring training and debuted in May. He had a 2.04 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 15 games but missed time due to a right shoulder impingement.
Eppler said it was “really difficult” to part with Holderman, but his sense of the trade market was relievers will be more obtainable than bats, so this swap was worth it. The Mets also have Trevor May (stress reaction in his right humerus) nearing a return, so Holderman wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot down the stretch this year.
“I ran through a bunch of different iterations to try to not have to yield Colin in this transaction,” Eppler said. “Pittsburgh didn’t have to move [Vogelbach] . . . We had to give them, ultimately, the player that they dug their heels in on.”
Taijuan Walker said he will start Tuesday against the Yankees after getting his right shoulder and right knee checked out in New York last weekend. Those body parts “checked out good,” he added.
“I’ve thrown a lot of innings, so I just wanted to make sure everything was going well,” Walker said. “Everything looked good going into the All-Star break, and I’ll be ready for the second half.”
First-round shortstop Jett Williams, the No. 14 overall draft pick this week, signed with the Mets on Friday. His signing bonus was $3.9 million, a source said. Williams said he’ll head to Port St. Lucie to start his pro career with the rookie-level FCL Mets next week.
Also, the Mets agreed to sign former Patchogue-Medford star Brad Malm, pending a physical, according to a person familiar with the deal. Malm, an undrafted free agent, just wrapped up a five-year career at the University at Albany.
Smith’s sprained ankle is “a couple-week thing,” Eppler said. May will start a rehab assignment soon, according to manager Buck Showalter. The Mets called up utilityman Travis Blankenhorn, who has hit righties well for Triple-A Syracuse, to take Smith’s roster spot for at least a day. And Yoan Lopez got the late call-up to replace Holderman.
First-base coach Wayne Kirby was doing well after having cancer-removal surgery this week, Showalter said, adding: “I wish I could share all the quotes and pictures he sent me along the way. He hasn’t lost his sense of humor.” Batting-practice thrower Rafael Fernandez will fill in as the first-base coach for at least this homestand . . . David Peterson was available out of the bullpen at least Friday and perhaps longer . . . Showalter opened his pregame news conference with a nod to Starling Marte’s All-Star red-carpet getup: “On the next road trip, I’m going to wear a suit with no shirt."