Amid an offseason full of tough news, Oakland A’s fans got something new to believe in on Wednesday.
The A’s signed catcher Stephen Vogt to a major league contract, first reported by Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle and confirmed by team insider Martin Gallegos. The deal is still pending a physical, and terms have not yet been announced.
Vogt spent five seasons in Oakland from 2013-17 and became an all-time fan favorite. On the field he earned two All-Star berths thanks to his strong bat at a typically light-hitting position, and he holds one of the franchise’s biggest postseason highlights with his walk-off single in 2013 ALDS Game 2. Off the field his outgoing personality and 80-grade sense of humor made him a legend, and his 2015 bobblehead giveaway at the Coliseum featured him wearing an NBA referee’s uniform in reference to his signature comedy routine.
Since being let go midway through 2017, Vogt spent time with the Brewers, Giants, D’Backs, and Braves. Last summer he played 52 games for Arizona, then was traded to Atlanta and played 26 games for them, but went down with a hip injury in September and had to sit out the Braves championship postseason run.
- Vogt, 2021 ARZ/ATL: .195/.283/.333, 64 wRC+, 7 HR, 10.9% BB, 23.5% Ks
His numbers have sharply declined since the peak we saw in Oakland, when his production was above-average, but that OBP is still higher than what the A’s got from their backup catchers last year. The combined line for Aramis Garcia, Yan Gomes, and Austin Allen was .223/.258/.376 in 215 plate appearances, roughly the same amount of playing time that Vogt received (238 plate appearances).
Oakland has the primary starting job locked down with Sean Murphy, who won the Gold Glove award last year and blasted 17 homers on offense. Now the second catcher spot has been filled, and with an MLB contract not a non-roster flyer.
What’s not to love? This move satisfies the annual tradition of bringing back a former A’s favorite for a reunion tour, and seeing Vogt wearing green-and-gold again should spark a smile on anybody’s face.
It makes some sense on the field too. Granted, he’s batted beneath the Mendoza Line each of the past two seasons, and he was never known for his defense, and he’s entering age 37 this season. But statistically he’s not a downgrade from last year’s roster, and on the plus side he’s a lefty hitter to pair with Murphy — even if Murphy doesn’t really need platoon assistance. He’s also a tremendously respected veteran who can help lead a young rebuilding clubhouse.
Furthermore, Vogt’s addition fits well on the larger depth chart. Oakland recently acquired a top catching prospect in Shea Langeliers, but he’s only played a few games in Triple-A and will surely begin the season in the minors, so a short-term stopgap was needed. Allen is still on the 40-man roster, but his defense is questionable and the team has already passed over him multiple times for this job before, so perhaps it’s time to try his promising bat at another position. A cheap lefty veteran like Vogt is just what they needed to buy some time.
Don’t expect a ton of production, but it’s not like we’re expecting much of anything from the A’s this summer. Vogt has continued to help teams, he’s a nice fit for this Oakland roster, he can bridge the gap until the next long-term catching prospect comes up soon, and it’ll be fun to have him back. Welcome home!