Trade Central: M’s Swap Montgomery To Cubs For Vogelbach


The Cubs had one of the majors’ best bullpens in 2015, but that group has taken a step back in ’16, one of the few areas of the team that can’t be characterized as a strength. To that end, Chicago traded from its prospect inventory to add to its bullpen, dealing Triple-A first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Double-A righthander Paul Blackburn to the Mariners on Wednesday for lefthander Mike Montgomery and righthanded swingman Jordan Pries.

Dan Vogelbach, 1b/dh
Age: 23

Vogelbach, 23, is in the midst of his best performance as a full-season player, coming at Triple-A Iowa. The 2011 second-round pick out of Bishop Verot High in Fort Myers, Fla., has improved his power production this year (career-best .548 slugging) as a result of his improved control of the strike zone. Instead of being merely content to take a walk, Vogelbach has progressed to find his hot zones, figuring out which pitches to drive, which ones to lay off and which ones to try to spoil. Vogelbach has a chance to hit 20-25 home runs annually while hitting for average, and he’s even a decent enough runner underway, as he’s worked hard to keep his listed 6-foot, 250-pound body from getting out of control. He’s long been criticized for his defense and has worked hard to play first base every day, rather than playing DH in the minors. He has decent enough hands and plays with effort defensively; however, he lacks agility and has an inconsistent arm stroke that leads to inaccurate throws and errors. His best fit is as a DH, an opportunity he’ll get in Seattle.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Iowa (PCL) AAA .318 89 305 53 97 18 2 16 64 55 67 0 .425 .548

Paul Blackburn, rhp
Age: 22

In Blackburn and Jen Ho-Tseng, the Cubs had two pitchability righthanders at Double-A Tennessee they hoped would develop into the elusive homegrown starter. Tseng has the better changeup and Blackburn has the better curveball. Drafted in 2012, Blackburn signed for $911,700 and has moved slowly, compounded in 2015 by two disabled list stints—one for a fluke right foot injury, then for forearm soreness that kept him out of the Carolina League playoffs. His profile hasn’t changed much over the years when he’s healthy and at his best. Blackburn’s fastball tops out at 93 mph, but he can move it in and out well and he fills the bottom of the strike zone. The curveball is an above-average offering and he has a solid-average changeup. He also gets groundball outs and keeps the ball in the ballpark.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO
Tennessee (SL) AA 6 4 3.17 18 18 102.1 96 47 36 6 26 72

Mike Montgomery, lhp
Age: 27

The former Royals and Rays prospect has found new life in Seattle as a high-leverage reliever this year, posting a 2.34 ERA in his first 61 2/3 innings while shackling lefthanded hitters (11-for-67, .523 OPS). He’s done it working around 95 mph with both four- and two-seam fastballs along with a much-improved curveball, which was the bane of his development as a touted Royals minor leaguer. The Mariners had moved him into their rotation for a pair of starts, but Chicago seems more likely to need his help in the bullpen than in the rotation.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO
Seattle (AL) MAJ 3 4 2.34 32 0 62 49 18 16 3 18 54

Jordan Pries, rhp
Age: 26

Pries is a strike-throwing swingman who was a 30th-round pick in 2011 from Stanford. A pitchability righthander with a fringe-average fastball, Pries is potential bullpen fodder for the Cubs.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO
Jackson (SL) AA 5 2 5.46 13 9 59 75 38 36 8 14 62
Tacoma (PCL) AAA 2 1 3.65 7 3 25 24 10 10 0 7 21

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