Washington Nationals: Stephen Vogt worth a look
By Ron Juckett
Although not the highest of priorities, the Washington Nationals should take a hard look at Stephen Vogt as backup catcher. He could fit a huge role.
In yet another opportunity for the Washington Nationals to trade with the Oakland Athletics, the A’s designated former All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.
A surprise move, Vogt is in the middle of a down year with the last place Athletics. His slash line of .217/.287/.357 gives you an OPS of .644 and adjusts to a weak 76. A far cry from the last two seasons where he slugged 18 and 14 home runs.
Although the Nats have Matt Wieters behind the plate this year, the depth behind him is weak. Jose Lobaton is playing below replacement level and cost Washington a potential win with passed balls on strike three. Pedro Severino is not ready and struggling at Triple-A Syracuse.
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Severino is on the 7-day minor-league disabled list with an undisclosed injury.
If the Nats are interested in Vogt, he can play several roles.
Considered the captain with Oakland, Vogt’s leadership skills are among the highest in the game. If there are clubhouse issues—and no implying there are—his value is immediate. A professional in every sense of the word.
Vogt is an upgrade over Lobaton. Bad numbers in Oakland aside, Vogt is capable of double-digit home runs and popped 30 doubles last year. Although not fast on the base paths, he slashed two triples. If you wonder about swiping a bag, forget it. The last successful attempt came in 2014.
Unless the roof caves in for Wieters, he will exercise his opt-out clause when the season ends. Vogt enters his first year of arbitration heading into 2018. The cash-strapped Nats are on the verge of hitting the competitive-balance tax this year and would shed Wieters $10 million next year with Vogt on the roster.
That gives another year to figure out what to do with Severino. Either he could back up Vogt in Washington—the likely scenario—or get another full year in Syracuse. It is a cheaper bridge to the future then what the Nats have now.
There are higher priorities over the next six weeks Washington must deal with, but a move for Vogt should be cheap. Scoring a two-time recent All-Star is a good thing. At 32, he is not a long-term solution. But, he offers stability to a position overlooked by many.
Perhaps part of a package for Ryan Madson or Sonny Gray—if the price highly favors Washington—the pros outweigh the cons if Mike Rizzo and company wish to upgrade.