The Milwaukee Brewers claimed Stephen Vogt off waivers from the Oakland Athletics during the 2017 season. He performed well down the stretch but could his time with the Crew be over already?
With the non-tender deadline set for Friday night, the Brewers will decide in the next few days whether or not they want to keep Vogt on their roster. He has the ability to start. And could fit into a platoon with Manny Pina behind the plate. That is, if the Brewers want to keep him around.
There are plenty of reasons to keep Vogt. He has a great clubhouse presence. His veteran leadership is a plus for any team, especially for this young group of players that the Milwaukee Brewers have. His ability to call a game is also important for this young pitching staff.
Vogt has good pop and can hit for a decent average. In the 45 games he played with the Brewers last season, he hit .254 with seven doubles, eight homers, and 20 RBIs. In a full year of production, Vogt has shown the ability to hit anywhere from 12-18 homers a season He also flashes the ability to finish with a batting average between .250 and .270, which isn’t bad.
But there are also reasons to let Vogt go. While he isn’t terrible at framing pitches, his throwing arm is awful. He allowed 27 stolen bases while stopping only four runners. That makes for a 13% caught stealing percentage.
Manny Pina has one of the best throwing arms in all of baseball. It makes little sense to allow base runners the freedom to steal in half of the games the Milwaukee Brewers play. Also, he is projected to earn $3.9 million in arbitration this year. That’s a little high for platooning a 33 year old catcher with an average bat and below average throwing arm.
As much as the Brewers would want to keep Vogt around for his clubhouse presence and ability to call a game, they have to look at so many other factors. He can’t control the running game and doesn’t provide anything special with the bat. Manny Pina can do both of those.
You may ask if it’s just that simple why not just make Pina the full-time starter? Vogt can serve as a backup? The simple answer is Pina will cost league minimum as a pre-arbitration eligible player. Vogt will cost near $4 million. Why would you pay that much money for a backup catcher when the starting catcher is under control for a little more than $500k? It would make no sense to do that.
Stephen Vogt is a candidate to be non-tendered. He is a great personality and is a clubhouse and fan favorite after only a few months in Milwaukee. But he could be on his way out the door. If he doesn’t get tendered a contract and becomes a free agent, it’s easy to see the Brewers signing him back. Though to a much smaller salary than he would’ve received in arbitration.
The reasons to keep him are still there and the main reason the Milwaukee Brewers would balk at tendering Vogt a contract is the high price tag. If they could sign him to a deal for $2 million, the Brewers would likely be much more open to bringing him back. That would be half his arbitration cost. Craig Counsell would love to have a guy like Vogt in his clubhouse, but David Stearns would love to have him at a much smaller salary.
Vogt was a great waiver pickup during the season. He provided a jolt to the lineup. The backstop played a role in the Brewers staying in playoff contention as long as they did. Whether he returns is a major question that will soon have an answer.