After years of strong production from Jonathan Lucroy, the Milwaukee Brewers began this season with a relatively unknown combination of backstops. Preseason breakout candidate Manny Pina has held his own during his first full big league season, batting .286/.327/.448 (99 wRC+) through 166 PA with 4 home runs while providing roughly league-average defense behind the dish. The other half of the tandem, Jett Bandy, got off to a strong start but his production has tailed off quite a bit lately. A severe cold streak at the plate has brought his season-long slash down to .211/.287/.380 (72 wRC+) with 6 home runs, and on defense he’s thrown out only 16% of attempted base thieves and has graded out as one of the worst pitch-framers in the league.
In light of Bandy’s recent struggles, it appears that Slingin’ David Stearns has made a move to shore up his depth behind the plate:
The #Brewers have claimed Stephen Vogt on waivers, source says.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) June 25, 2017
Catcher Stephen Vogt has been claimed off waivers from Oakland. The #Brewers 40-man roster is full.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) June 25, 2017
Vogt, 32, began his career as a 12th round pick by the Rays back in 2007. He’s spent most of his big league career as a member of the Oakland Athletics, with whom he’s played parts of each of the last five seasons. He was an All-Star in each of the last two seasons prior to 2017, and for his big league career he owns a .251/.312/.409 slash with 49 home runs across 1679 plate appearances.
The left-handed hitting Vogt has played primarily behind the plate as a big leaguer, but also has experience at first base and in the outfield corners. He’s not a particularly adept defender at any of those positions, however, and his struggles behind the dish have been rather pronounced this year. Vogt has thrown out only 15% of the runners that have tried to steal against him and like Bandy, has been one of the game’s worst pitch-framers this season. Vogt has typically provided most of his value with the bat during his career, but he was having his worst offensive season before the A’s cut him loose, batting only .217/.287/.357 (73 wRC+) with 4 home runs through 174 plate appearances.
Vogt is out of minor league options, and the Brewers will be on the hook for the remainder of his $2.965 mil salary this season. He does, however, come with two additional seasons of club control if Milwaukee chooses to keep him around. Jett Bandy does have a minor league option remaining so when Vogt is activated, he will very likely take Jett’s place on the active roster and pair with the right-handed hitting Pina.
We know how highly Craig Counsell and David Stearns value versatility, so Vogt’s ability to play multiple positions should help his bat find its way into the lineup with some regularity. If he can find a way to get back to his peak levels of production (18 HR, 116 wRC+ in 2015) then this could prove to be a very shrewd, buy-low kind of move for the Brewers, who have had plenty of success plucking players off the waiver wire. With this move, Milwaukee’s 40 man roster is now full.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus