The San Francisco Giants cast a wide net in the search for a veteran backup catcher during the offseason. Stephen Vogt was one of their pickups, and he’s locked down the role for much of the season.
The 34-year old signed a one-year minor league contract on Feb. 12th. A two-time All-Star during his days in Oakland, he was attempting to make a comeback from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2018 season.
He’s done that and more while emerging as a key contributor on this year’s team, both on the field and in the clubhouse.
To that point, it was Vogt who started the “T” celebration after a base-hit by a Giants player.
Thanks to spark he’s provided, team president Farhan Zaidi will have to give serious thought to re-signing Vogt during the offseason.
Despite his considerable MLB experience, Vogt agreed to begin the 2019 season at Triple-A while he continued to shake off the rust from a lost season.
He ended up playing 17 games at Triple-A Sacramento, hitting .241/.389/.500 with four home runs in just 72 plate appearances. On May 1, the Giants selected his contract and the Bay Area native from Visalia, CA was given a chance to live out a childhood dream after growing up a San Francisco Giants fan.
He made his San Francisco Giants debut on May 3, coming off the bench in the top of the sixth inning to pinch-hit for reliever Nick Vincent.
In his first at-bat with the team, Vogt ripped an RBI double, scoring Kevin Pillar.
In his third at-bat with the team, he crushed a game-tying solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap off an eight-run comeback by the Giants.
He finished the game 3-for-3 and the Giants walked away with an improbable 12-11 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in 11 innings.
All told, Vogt has appeared in 83 games with the Giants this season, hitting .268/.323/.507 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in 226 plate appearances. He leads all backup catchers and is seventh among NL backstops with a minimum of 100 at-bats with 1.3 WAR.
It’s hard to envision the Giants dipping into free agency to add another veteran backup when Vogt has been so productive and such a positive clubhouse presence. He’s also a “Farhan guy” with the two spending time together in the Oakland organization during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
That said, there are two in-house options the team could consider for the backup catcher role in Aramis Garcia and Joey Bart.
Garcia, 26, has seen action in 27 games at the MLB level over the past two seasons, hitting .253/.287/.482 with six home runs in just 87 plate appearances. He batted .271/.343/.488 with 20 doubles, 16 home runs and 55 RBI at Triple-A this year.
Bart, 22, is one of the team’s top prospects and he’ll no doubt start the year in the minors where he can get regular playing time rather than being used in a part-time reserve role. He could arrive in the big leagues in short order, though.
Another one-year deal for Vogt to help bridge the gap to Bart makes a ton of sense for the San Francisco Giants as we look ahead to the potential 2020 roster.
That is unless the front office decides to offer him the manager role instead. But that’s a conversation for another time.