MARCH 24: Oakland has officially announced the signing of Vogt to a one-year deal. The team already had a pair of vacancies on the 40-man roster, so no additional move was necessary. Vogt will earn $850K guaranteed, plus a $100K bonus for 60 days on the active roster and a $150K assignment bonus if traded, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
MARCH 23: The A’s and catcher Stephen Vogt are in agreement on a major league contract, pending a physical, reports Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Vogt is a client of All Bases Covered Sports Management.
It’s a return to the organization for Vogt, who had his best seasons with the A’s. The lefty-hitting backstop played in Oakland between 2013-17, hitting .255/.316/.416 over that stretch. That’s exactly league average offense, by measure of wRC+, but Vogt had a couple above-average seasons during that run. He combined to hit 27 homers with a .268/.333/.438 line in 798 plate appearances from 2014-15.
The amiable Vogt became a fan favorite during his four-plus seasons in Oakland, which included back-to-back All-Star appearances in 2015-16. His production tailed off at the end of his run there, though, as he was off to just a .217/.287/.357 start through 54 games in 2017. The A’s placed him on waivers, where he was scooped up by the Brewers. He popped eight homers in a reserve capacity with Milwaukee that year, but he missed basically all of the following season due to a shoulder strain.
Vogt rebounded from the injury in 2019. He returned to the Bay Area with the Giants and hit .263/.314/.490 in 280 trips to the plate. The past two years, on the other hand, have been a significant struggle. Vogt hit .188/.274/.319 in 102 games split between the D-Backs and Braves. He finished last season on the injured list with hip inflammation, preventing him from partaking in Atlanta’s run to a World Series title.
At 37 and coming off back-to-back down seasons, Vogt fell towards the back of this winter’s free agent catching class. He’ll return to a familiar environment where he’s beloved by a sizable portion of the fanbase, providing skipper Mark Kotsay both a valuable clubhouse presence and a bat-first depth option at catcher. Sean Murphy is obviously in line for the bulk of the playing time behind the dish, with the out-of-options Austin Allen the only other backstop on the 40-man roster. Oakland will have to break camp with the 28-year-old Allen or designate him for assignment, but the arrival of Vogt could put his time in the organization in jeopardy.
It’s not entirely out of the question Murphy changes uniforms in the coming weeks. The A’s have kicked off an organizational reboot this winter, flipping Chris Bassitt, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman in an effort to cut costs. Signing Vogt to what’s assuredly a low-cost deal won’t have any impact on the front office’s thinking on Murphy, who is controllable through 2025 and not yet arbitration-eligible. That makes Murphy a long shot to be dealt, but if the A’s did flip him before Opening Day, Vogt and Allen would figure to pick up the lion’s share of playing time. Oakland did acquire top catching prospect Shea Langeliers from the Braves in the Olson deal, giving them another promising long-term option at the position.
The A’s payroll-cutting efforts have trickled over into free agency, where the club has done essentially nothing this winter. Once finalized, Vogt’s deal will be the A’s first (and quite possibly only) major league contract of the offseason. They’d been the only team not to have signed a player to a big league deal. Vogt will get them on the board, but that’s probably only a minor consolation for a fanbase that has seen a few highly-regarded players shipped off since the lockout ended.