The Diamondbacks’ behind-the-plate combination of Carson Kelly and Alex Avila’s was one of the National League’s best in 2019, from an offensive standpoint. The two combined for 27 homers last year, with Kelly’s 108 wRC+ falling fourth among NL backstops. The club doubled down on an offense-first approach at catcher when it signed Stephen Vogt to a one-year, $3MM deal with a 2021 vesting option earlier this week, posits Zach Buchanan of The Athletic.
In acquiring Vogt, Buchanan argues that executive Mike Hazen essentially secured Avila-plus; both players are left-handed, veteran sluggers, but Vogt performed at a higher level in 2019 and swings at a higher launch angle than the 32-year-old Avila (a feature which figures to play well at Arizona’s Chase Field). With catcher defense front-and-center for many front offices, going bat-first at backstop certainly represents an against-the-grain strategy for Arizona’s front office.
More items from around the NL…
- It’s been an offseason of change in San Diego, with new manager Jayce Tingler taking the reins after a four-year stretch of losing seasons under Andy Green. We’ve also seen former Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild take over for longtime Padres fixture Darren Balsley, and a few of Manny Machado’s old friends from Baltimore have been brought in to provide additional coaching help. Rothschild has now settled on Ben Fritz as the club’s new bullpen coach, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, although a new hitting coach has yet to be identified. Damian Easley, who has already been working with the club’s infielders, remains a possibility for that role. Acee also relays that Rod Barajas, who served as the club’s interim manager after Green’s mid-season exit, will be redirected to another role in the organization after being passed over for the role of skipper.
- Tim Britton of The Athletic tracks payroll trends surrounding the Mets over the last decade, with his analysis resting largely on info culled from Baseball Prospectus’ Cot’s On Contracts. Though perhaps unsurprising to most faithful followers of the team, Britton notes that New York has enacted the lowest percentage increase in total payroll among all teams in this decade. While total MLB revenue has risen nearly 50 percent in the last ten years, the Mets have not kept pace with other big-market spenders (New York was third in payroll over the course of the aughts, but spent the majority of this decade outside the top ten in payroll spending). Still, it’s important to emphasize that the Mets’ payroll is trending up of late, with GM Brodie Van Wagenen denying to speak unequivocally about a potential approach to the $208MM CBT line.