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Pirates sign Daniel Vogelbach, Heath Hembree to one-year deals

Both players struggled last season, but look for redemption with Pittsburgh.

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images

Good things come in pairs.

Earlier this morning, the Pirates announced on Twitter that they signed infielder Daniel Vogelbach and RHP Heath Hembree to one-year deals, marking the first notable signings by the team following the lockout. Last season, both players put up less-than-desirable stats, but see this season as a chance for redemption.

The signings come less than 24 hours after GM Ben Cherington told reporters that the Pirates were not done scouring the free agent/trade market, and it may not be the final wave of moves the team makes prior to the first Spring Training game this Friday.

According to MLB insider Jon Heyman, Vogelbach’s deal is worth $1 million with an additional $400,000 in incentives, with a second year option worth $1.5 million. Financials for Hembree have not been announced yet.

Vogelbach, 29, spent last season with the Milwaukee Brewers and brings power to a contact-heavy lineup. While his average looks bleak, Vogelbach has a good eye at the plate, totaling 43 walks in 93 games last season, according to Baseball-Reference, and he’s compiled a WRC+ of 112, 98 and 101 over the past three years.

Vogelbach told reporters that he came to Pittsburgh based on ties with hitting coach Andy Haines, whom he worked with while in Milwaukee, and he told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he likes the play style of his new team.

“[Ke’Bryan] Hayes and [Bryan] Reynolds are special to watched. I played with [Ben] Gamel in Seattle. Watched him play forever. It’s fun to watch. They play hard. It’s how I like to play. Really competitive and aggressive, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Hembree, 33, started off last year on a strong note, but fell off after he was traded midseason to the Cincinnati Reds. In total, he pitched 60 games in 2021 and collected nine saves but gave up 36 earned runs in 58 innings.

Additionally, Hembree stranded 59 percent of runners in 2021, marking his worst year in that category. Prior to that, his LOB% never dipped below 72 percent, according to Fangraphs.

Hembree does bring lots of velocity behind his pitches, maxing out at 99 MPH last year and he’s able to mix speeds/locations at any given time.

He could serve as a possible set-up option for the Pirates while younger arms – notably Blake Cederlind and Nick Mears, who were placed on the 60-day injured list to make room for Vogelbach and Hembree on the 40-man roster – recover from injury.


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