We officially have our first rumor of the offseason! The Oakland A’s “have been in contact with [catcher] Stephen Vogt’s agent,” reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. Read Slusser’s full writeup here.
A’s fans are more than familiar with Vogt, who was a favorite in Oakland from 2013 until he was cut in mid-2017. After finishing that ‘17 season with the Brewers, and sitting out 2018 due to injury, he resurfaced this past summer with the Giants (eww) and played reasonably well at age 34.
Vogt, 2019: .263/.314/.490, 107 wRC+, 10 HR, 7.1% BB, 23.6% Ks
He’s never drawn high marks for his defense, but he’s an above-average bat at a position where the league average is around an 85 wRC+ (his career mark is 99). He also authored one of the biggest A’s highlights of the 21st century so far, with his walk-off single in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS (against future Cy Young winner Rick Porcello).
The most crucial trait for Vogt in this conversation is that he bats left-handed. The A’s current catching situation is led by rookie righty Sean Murphy, an elite prospect who debuted in the majors in September and played well enough to earn the start in the Wild Card Game. They also have veteran righty Josh Phegley, who is eligible for salary arbitration. They just added switch-hitting prospect Jonah Heim to the 40-man roster earlier this month, but he’s not expected to be ready for MLB by Opening Day.
In a perfect world, there would be a lefty to pair with Murphy to begin 2020, but just on a short-term stopgap basis until Heim comes up. That’s where Vogt would potentially fit in, as he would presumably be available on a small one-year contract. He’s good enough to stick around all year if needed, but hopefully would also be cheap enough to cut if/when the time is right.
Of course, the addition of Vogt would surely spell the end of the line for Phegley, who is tied for the longest-tenured player on the team (he joined in 2015). But that may be an inevitability at this point, if Heim does indeed force his way up sooner than later.
The future of Oakland’s catching position appears to be Murphy and Heim, and we could see that become a reality by mid-2020. In the meantime, there’s an open spot next to Murphy, either for Phegley or a new external addition. There are lots of names out there to look at, and some of them may be better bets, but it’s hard to think of a more interesting one than a reunion with Vogt. Do you still believe?