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Stephen Vogt suffers setback with shoulder; unlikely to be ready for Opening Day

Is Jett Bandy for sure making the team, or is Christian Bethancourt in play?

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Miami Marlins
More R&R (rest and rehab) for Vogt
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Just DH-ing hasn’t helped Stephen Vogt in his efforts to recover from his strained shoulder:

Tom Haudricourt’s info seems to point to a DL stint for Vogt at the opening of the season. This probably ensures that he sticks on the DL with Milwaukee to start the year, meaning his $3.065 mil salary would become fully guaranteed. While we have looked at the backup catching situation as a decision between Jett Bandy (who is out of options) and Vogt, it is possible that Milwaukee might also look a little harder at Christian Bethancourt as the backup.

Bethancourt has big league experience and is known as a defensive-first player with a great arm. The arm is so good that he actually pitched last season both in the minors and for the San Diego Padres. If the Brewers decide to give about 80% of the starts to Manny Pina, Bethancourt might make sense as the back-up over Jett Bandy, whose numbers defensively weren’t overly impressive last season. His 17% rate for stopping base stealers wasn’t good, although he did nab 40% of would-be thieves for the California Angels in 2016.

Bethancourt sits at 35% caught stealing for his career, and was once a highly rated prospect.

Bandy started well last season but tailed off and finished with a slash of.207/.287/.349, giving him an OPS of just .636. He has hit 15 homers in his 380 major league at bats. Bethancourt’s Steamer projection at the plate for this season sits at .238/.279/.386, which would be an OPS of .665. It’s a close call.

The loss of Vogt for what could be a significant length of time is a major setback for him. He is at a crucial point in his career, and missing significant time could mean the Brewers won’t keep him in arbitration following 2018 and he would be looking at a minor league deal somewhere next season. In his favor, he is a former All-Star (twice) with the Oakland A’s and provides pop from the left side of the plate, a real asset in the catching position.

To be continued...