While the A’s have been busy trading most of their great players, they would bring back one of the most popular players to play for Oakland in recent memory.
According to Matthew Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle and Martin Gallegos of MLB.com, Stephen Vogt, a two-time All-Star during his five seasons with the A’s, has signed a major league contract to return to Oakland. The case is awaiting a physical.
The return of Vogt, 37, is a reunion that has been in the works for almost five years. Picked up as a waiver before the 2013 season, Vogt was a part-time catcher on the 2013 and 2014 playoff teams at Oakland before taking over as lead catcher in 2015. He shone in the role, beating .261 with 18 homers in 2015 and .251 with 14 homers in 2016, being selected for the All-Star Game both years.
The fan favorite sparked chants of “I believe in Stephen Vogt!” bleachers and was a highly visible member of the community, twice winning the Dave Stewart Community Service Award. He was also popular at the clubhouse and was named the team’s most inspirational player for three consecutive years.
But when the current core led by Matt Olson and Matt Chapman was called up, Vogt was one of the previous core guys kicked out. He was the team’s longest-serving player when Oakland slated him for a June 22, 2017 assignment — a move Vogt said he saw coming, even though he didn’t like it.
“Oakland is a place we love,” Vogt said after the move in 2017. “It’s a place where we’ve seen our family grow. We’ve had success here as a family and as a team. We have developed many relationships that will last.
Players in that core were upset with the move at the time, with Vogt seen as a team leader.
“I was shocked,” Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle said in 2017. “I know the last few weeks he might not have played that much, but I don’t think it’s been on the anyone’s radar. It wasn’t something people were expecting. It was a shock to everyone after last night’s game.
“His story is that of an Oakland A, isn’t it? A guy who had kind of had a chance with another club, but finally got a chance here after being picked up on waivers and spending some time at Triple-A. Within a year, he was an everyday guy for us and I became a leader of the team, a sort of captain of the team. If there was one guy who was going to wear a ‘C’ on his jersey, it would be him.”
The Brewers claimed Vogt on waivers and he was solid for Milwaukee, hitting .254 with eight homers. After missing 2018 with a shoulder injury, Vogt signed across the bay with the Giants, his favorite childhood team, to help support Buster Posey. In the limited role, Vogt hit 263 with 10 homers and brought the good vibes to a Giants clubhouse
His play landed him a $3 million contract with the Diamondbacks, where he spent the shortened 2020 season and the first half of 2021. He was traded to Atlanta in mid-July to help the Braves make a push in the playoffs, but an injury on September 10 led to sports hernia surgery in October. He was unavailable as the Braves won the World Series.
Vogt’s return to Oakland could be a foreshadowing of a Sean Murphy trade. The current A’s starter is a year away from refereeing, but a November report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal listed Murphy as an “available part” for other teams. The A’s also acquired highly touted receiver Shea Langeliers from the Braves in the trade of Olson, a player many observers believe is nearly ready for the Majors.
But whether the A’s trade Murphy or not, left-handed hitter Vogt is a good field at receiver. And he’s sure to get a warm reception from the fanbase as well.
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