Tampa Bay Rays: Should Stephen Vogt be an Option?
By David Hill
The Tampa Bay Rays have received some help at catcher as Wilson Ramos returned from the disabled list. Should they consider Stephen Vogt as an upgrade as their backup catcher and overhaul the position?
Back in 2012, Stephen Vogt had a miserable time as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. He made the team out of Spring Training as the backup catcher, getting his first major league chance at 27 years old. However, he was 0-13 before being sent to Durham. He came back to the majors twice, including as a September callup, but failed to get a hit. Vogt ended the season hitless in his 25 at bats, but he did manage to draw two walks with only two strikeouts.
Prior to the 2013 season, the Oakland Athletics purchased Vogt from the Rays. After two seasons as their backup, he earned the starting nod in 2015. Vogt was a revelation that year, making the All Star Game while producing a .261/.341/.443 batting line with 18 homers. While he did not perform at the same level in 2016, Vogt was still a solid catcher, making the All Star Game yet again while producing a .251/.305/.406 batting line with 14 homers.
This season, Vogt was one of the veterans as the Athletics began their youth movement. While he provided leadership and had the respect of the clubhouse, Vogt also struggled with the bat. In his 174 plate appearances, Vogt had managed just a .217/.287/.357 batting line, with four homers and eight doubles. He began losing playing time to Josh Phegley, and was eventually designated for assignment on Thursday.
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Even with those struggles, it would not be a surprise for a team desperate for catching help to give Vogt a look. He is not that far removed from being a valuable piece, and in a backup role, could be quite the addition. After all, a catcher with solid on base skills and decent power in his bat is a valuable commodity.
Meanwhile, we all know that the Tampa Bay Rays need help at the catcher position. Plenty of words have been typed in regards to their struggles, an their rankings in baseball. However, a good deal of those issues should be mitigated now that Wilson Ramos has returned from the disabled list. As a result, Derek Norris was designated for assignment, with Jesus Sucre remaining as the backup, at least for now.
However, given Sucre’s own struggles at the plate this year, it may be tempting to consider Vogt as a replacement. Yet, for all of his struggles with the bat, Sucre has been better defensively than Vogt this season. Not only has he saved six more runs than Vogt, and thrown out more baserunners, his catcher ERA is nearly a run lower than the former Rays backstop. Given how much the Rays value defense from their catchers, it simply makes more sense to retain Sucre.
Next: Rays reportedly interested in Hechavarria
Stephen Vogt will find a landing spot somewhere. It just won’t be with the Tampa Bay Rays.