Who said the Oakland A’s wouldn’t sign any free-agents this off-season?!
It is being widely reported that the A’s are finally going to make their first free-agent signing ahead of the 2022 season by bringing back fan favourite Stephen Vogt.
The only details we have right now are that it is a Major League contract and that a locker with his name and number has been set up in the A’s Spring Training clubhouse.
Vogt earned $3M last year during which he was traded from Arizona to Atlanta. Injury prevented him from being part of the Braves’ play-off run, although he was having a rough season anyway and ended up with a light batting line of .195/.283/.333 with 7 HR in 210 at-bats.
Clearly this is not the Vogt Version 1.0 that we enjoyed so much during his run with the A’s between 2013 and 2017. He’s 37 years-old and all of those years as a catcher take a toll. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful addition, though, as a more-than capable back-up catcher who can provide much-needed experience and leadership on a young team.
The A’s have circled through a few guys to perform that back-up role over the past two years, with Aramis Garcia and Austin Allen being the main options before the team eventually went out and traded for Yan Gomes for the final two months of last season.
We acquired highly-regarded catcher prospect Shea Langeliers from the Braves in the Olson trade and it looks like he’s close to being Major League ready; however, you’d always prefer a prospect to play their way onto a team rather than get the position by default. A couple of good months in Triple-A to start the season would be the perfect springboard from which to launch his Big League career.
Whether that would make Vogt surplus to requirements, or be part of a series of moves that sees Sean Murphy traded away, will be worked out nearer the time.
I might be proved wrong, but I don’t see the Vogt signing as something that would jeopardize the chances of Murphy being in the A’s Opening Day line-up. Vogt’s age and performances in recent years would put him firmly in back-up territory, and he’ll be on a modest salary even for the John Fisher A’s (maybe $1.5M or so with incentives), so it feels like a move that brings a veteran presence into the camp and keeps the Front Office’s options open for how things play out with Murphy and Langeliers as the season moves on.
However, it does further suggest that the team does not have complete confidence in Austin Allen and, as he is out of Minor League options, ultimately he may be the one who makes way on the 40-man Opening Day roster.
So long as the expectations on what he can bring at this stage in his career are suitably restrained, I can see Vogt being a popular and useful addition to the A’s roster.
At the very least, it gives the fans at the Coliseum something to enjoy making a noise about!