According to a team announcement, Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt has cleared outright waivers and elected free agency. Vogt, along with pitchers Jimmy Nelson and Brent Suter, was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list today. The 34-year-old Vogt did not play in the majors in 2018 after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in May. With the addition of Nelson and Suter, the Brewers’ 40-man roster now consists of 37 players.
Vogt didn’t take the field this season due to that surgery, though he spent the year traveling with the team even after the operation. The veteran backstop joined the Brew Crew via waivers last June after being designated for assignment by the A’s. Vogt showed good pop with Milwaukee last year, hitting .254/.284/.508 with seven big flies in just 129 plate appearances and was rewarded with a $3.065MM deal in the offseason, avoiding arbitration. Unfortunately for both team and player, that proved to be a sunk cost, as shoulder issues in Spring Training lingered into the season before it was determined that Vogt was facing a potentially career-threatening injury.
As it stands, it’s not clear where Vogt is in terms of recovery from an injury which the veteran described as “[feeling] everything go wrong that could go wrong with a shoulder.” If doctors determine his arm can handle another attempt at playing, he could look to re-up with the Brewers on a minor league pact or seek out a non-guaranteed deal with another club on the open market.
Nelson, too, missed the entire 2018 season as he recovered from shoulder surgery that he underwent last September. If he can come back at full strength in 2019, he’ll add a dynamic presence to the top of a Brewers rotation that proved to be a surprising strength in 2018. He’d join Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson in the rotation, with Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Zach Davies and Junior Guerra representing further options (to say nothing of any potential offseason additions).
The 29-year-old Suter surely would’ve been in that group as well, but the left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this summer and won’t be an option to return to the active roster until late 2019.