After a poor start to the season, Justin Smoak is no longer a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
It’s hard to be completely surprised by this move but at the same time, it’s hard to not be surprised by this move. The Brewers have designated first baseman Justin Smoak for assignment while simultaneously acquiring first baseman Daniel Vogelbach from the Blue Jays.
Vogelbach was designated for assignment himself a few days ago.
Ken Rosenthal was first to report the news.
Brewers DFA Justin Smoak
Throughout this season, Justin Smoak has drawn the ire of Brewers fans since he’s gotten off to a poor offensive start. Things were rough in the early going but he seemed to find a mini-hot streak with some power a few weeks ago, so everything was looking up.
But over the past week, Smoak lost the fire at the plate and hit an abysmal .056/.227/.056 in his last seven games with just one hit and eight strikeouts. The Brewers had seen enough and needed change.
On the season, Smoak had been hitting .186/.262/.381 with five home runs and 40 strikeouts in 126 PAs. The 31.8% strikeout rate is far above his career norms.
Daniel Vogelbach Enters The Picture
To replace Smoak on the roster and hopefully add some production, the Brewers acquired Daniel Vogelbach. Vogelbach is a left handed hitter with plenty of power, hitting 30 home runs last year for the Mariners. Similar to Smoak, he doesn’t hit for a very high average, hitting just .208 last year, but had a 112 OPS+ and a .341 OBP.
This year, Vogelbach has also struggled. He was recently sent from the Mariners to the Blue Jays and just the other day, the Blue Jays DFA’ed him because he struggled at the plate as well.
In 2020, Vogelbach is hitting just .088/.246/.211 in 69 plate appearances.
Primarily, this guy is a designated hitter and his defense at first base is considered sub-par but it’s the only place he can play.
He’ll likely fit into a platoon with Jedd Gyorko at first base as the Brewers try to lock down that position after losing Eric Thames in free agency last winter. For what it’s worth, Thames isn’t performing much better, hitting .205 with two home runs and a .623 OPS for the Nationals.
The Brewers simply don’t have much for good options at first base right now and they’re trying something different and replace Smoak with Vogelbach.
Vogelbach is under team control through the 2024 season at least. He’s still pre-arbitration and those extra years make the move worthwhile for the Crew since Smoak’s club option for next year likely would’ve been declined and they would have another hole at first base.
The offensive production at first this year for the Brewers has been terrible. They need to find some offense at a traditionally strong offensive position. The struggles of Smoak at that spot have only highlighted the offensive woes of this team.