The Athletics have designated veteran catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment in the team’s latest future-oriented move, per a club announcement. Catcher Bruce Maxwell and first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson have been called up from Triple-A, with third baseman Matt Chapman hitting the DL.
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Chapman had only just been called up himself, taking over at third base with veteran Trevor Plouffe being designated and later traded to the Rays. The A’s are now calling upon two additional youthful players while making the somewhat surprising decision to part with Vogt — one of the organization’s longest-tenured players.
Vogt earned All-Star nods in each of the past two seasons. He was also a fan favorite and noted clubhouse leader in Oakland. But the 32-year-old was struggling early in 2017. Through 174 plate appearances, he owns a marginal .217/.287/.357 batting line with four home runs.
Despite those tepid results, it stands to reason that the left-handed hitter will draw interest from other organizations. Vogt is earning just $2,965,000 this year and has two arb-eligible seasons still to come. It seems possible, though hardly certain, that he could be claimed on waivers; more likely, perhaps, is some kind of trade.
Vogt’s difficulties at the plate are only part of the story. After all, he has been a bit unlucky to carry a .244 BABIP — though his 28.3% soft contact rate also represents a low point. But there are also questions about his defensive capabilities behind the dish; Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) continues to rate Vogt as a negative in the pitch-framing department while also grading him as below-average in controlling the running game. Vogt has also played first base and a bit of corner outfield in the past, so he does come with some defensive versatility.
Whatever happens with Vogt, the A’s seem clearly to be open for business with regards to other veteran players. First baseman Yonder Alonso, righty Sonny Gray, and infielder Jed Lowrie all seem to be clear trade candidates along with relievers Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, and Santiago Casilla — among other players.
While exploring deals in a market that currently features relatively few clear sellers, the A’s will begin to see what they have in some younger options. Maxwell, 26, has already tasted the majors in each of the past two years and has slashed a robust .310/.378/.516 over 312 total plate appearances at the highest level of the minors (after largely scuffling at the plate earlier in his professional career). The 23-year-old Olson has also received brief MLB time already. He has dominated the PCL pitching thus far in 2017, putting up a .271/.365/.561 batting line with 17 home runs through 249 trips to the plate on the year.