Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners send Montgomery to Cubs for power-hitting prospect in four-player deal

The Mariners acquired 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach from the Cubs along with pitcher Paul Blackburn in a trade for pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries.
The Mariners acquired 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach from the Cubs along with pitcher Paul Blackburn in a trade for pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries. AP

SEATTLE — It falls short of a blockbuster and, really, it offers more promise down the road, but the Mariners chose not the sit idle as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

And this might just be the start.

The Mariners acquired two minor-league players — first baseman/designated hitter Dan Vogelbach and right-handed starter Paul Blackburn — from the Chicago Cubs for left-hander Mike Montgomery and minor-league righty Jordan Pries.

Vogelbach, 23, is the key acquisition, although the Mariners believe Blackburn, 22, could be part of their rotation as soon as the second half of next year.

The Mariners immediately optioned Vogelbach to Triple-A Tacoma and assigned Blackburn to Double-A Jackson.

"Dan Vogelbach can really hit," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He’s hit at every level he’s ever been. He’s major-league-ready now and we envision him as part of the short- and long-term solutions."

A second-round pick in 2011, Vogelbach is batting .318 in 89 games at Triple-A Iowa with 16 homers and 64 RBIs. He also has .425 on-base percentage this season and a .389 mark in six minor-league seasons.

Dipoto did not rule out additional deals prior to the Aug. 1 deadline for non-waiver trades, although he indicated that nothing else appears imminent.

Montgomery, 27, departs after going 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA in 32 games, including two starts.

"I’m going to miss this place," he said. "I had a lot of good times here, but I’m excited. I’m going to a good team. They reached out and wanted me, and I’m excited to go there and try to help them win a World Series."

Pries, 26, is a combined 7-3 with a 4.93 ERA in 20 games, including 12 starts, at Jackson and Tacoma.

"Mike had a good deal of value in the market," Dipoto said. "I told him that he’d built up so much equity from opening day to today in the industry, that his value was at a high…He fills a real niche for the Cubs."

Dipoto said the Mariners felt comfortable they were "dealing from an area of depth" in agreeing to trade Montgomery.

"We feel we can still run seven or eight starters out there," he said. "The combination of (Steve) Cishek and (Edwin) Diaz at the back has been really good for us. (Vidal) Nuno gives us that versatility (that Montgomery provided)."

Vogelbach is a beefy left-handed hitter at 6 feet and 250 pounds and drew comparisons from rival scouts to former Cleveland first baseman/DH Travis Hafner.

"Sad to see Dan go," said Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president for baseball operations. "He’s been a great guy to be around, but I’m also happy for him to get an opportunity to go to an American League club.

"It will give him a chance to get at-bats at the big-league level soon. He’s going to be around for a long time because he can hit and got great energy."

Epstein’s comments seem to reflect a widely-held view that Vogelbach projects primarily as a designated hitter, but Dipoto disagreed.

"We believe he can play first base," Dipoto said. "We’re not expecting the next Keith Hernandez or Don Mattingly, but he has really worked hard and made himself a much better defender."

The Cubs parted with Vogelbach, in part, because of those defensive concerns but also because he was blocked at the big-league level by Anthony Rizzo.

Vogelbach finds himself in the same situation with the Mariners, who have Adam Lind and Dae-Ho Lee splitting time at first base and sharing DH duties with Nelson Cruz.

Looking ahead, though, Lind will be a free agent after the season.

"(Vogelbach) is ready to play in the big leagues today," Dipoto said. "Whether he fits on our roster is a different matter, but what he brings us long-term is too good to walk away from."

For now, Vogelbach will split time at first base and DH for Tacoma with D.J. Peterson, the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2013.

Peterson, 24, is a right-handed hitter who is batting .333 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 17 games at Tacoma since his promotion from Jackson.

Blackburn (6-1 and 195 pounds) climbed steadily through the Cubs’ system since his selection as the 56th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He is 6-4 with a 3.17 ERA this season in 16 starts at Double-A Tennessee.

Dipoto said Blackburn projects as a No. 4 starter on a major-league club.

"Three average-to-better pitches," Dipoto said, "and he throws strikes. He’s having an all-star season in the Southern League, and we feel he projects as a potential 2017 ETA in the second half in the big leagues."

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners