- Rating: 3.67
- Age: 37
- 2021 Stats: .195/.283/.333 = .616 OPS, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 65 OPS+, bWAR = -0.1
- 2021 Earnings: $3.5 million
- 2022 Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
When the D-Backs signed Stephen Vogt back in the 2019 offseason, he was seen as a platoon, left-handed bat who might be able to mentor Carson Kelly as he continued to progress on the big-league level. Unfortunately, that is not what the D-Backs got as Vogt scuffled at the plate in both 2020 and 2021 before getting traded away to Atlanta during their mid-season shuffling. Frustratingly, he also was not a particularly effective platoon bat this year as he only managed to produce a measly .175 BA against righties while posting a surprising .293 against lefties. Obviously, it’s a little more difficult to quantify the effect his veteran leadership had on Kelly, but he passed both the eye test and numbers test as Kelly was a serviceable backstop (2 DRS) and hitter (104 OPS+).
Originally drafted by the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays all the way back in 2007, Vogt slogged through the organizational ladder before getting a cup of in 2012 where he did not do much to impress - failing to get a single hit across his first 18 games. However, the Athletics evidently saw some potential as they purchased him from Tampa Bay in 2013. He improved significantly that same year and really hit his stride in the following three seasons where he had back-to-back All-Star appearances in 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, he couldn’t maintain the success afterward and was a waiver claim by the Brewers after scuffling to just a .217/.287/.357 slash line the following year.
While he struggled in Milwaukee as well, he suffered a nearly catastrophic shoulder injury during a rehab assignment that seriously threatened his playing career. At 33, I absolutely would not have blamed him for simply hanging up the cleats and walking off. But all credit to him, he managed to rehab his way back into game shape and signed a minor league deal with the Giants in 2019. Apparently, the Bay air reinvigorated him as he returned to his All-Star level production and proved to the league that he still had some gas in the tank.
Which is where our favorite D-Backs enter into the Vogt picture - hoping to squeeze some of the last bits of productivity out of an aging star that filled a moderate positional need. To be completely fair, at least some of Vogt’s production in 2019 was likely due to luck rather than an internal shift or reinvention as he enjoyed a .311 BABIP while with San Francisco that was bound to revert to the mean. And wowee did it do just that in 2020 - cratering all the way down to .204 and dragging his overall offensive production along with it. Now, should Hazen’s office have seen that number and realized his 2019 production was likely more smoke and mirrors that were not sustainable? Probably, but given the relative lack of experience and left-handed batters on the Arizona roster in 2020, it wasn’t a completely unintelligible gamble by the front office to hope for even a fraction of his 2019 offensive production.
Even though that dice roll clearly came up snake eyes (*rimshot*), Hazen was able to extract a fringey minor league player from Atlanta in exchange - Mason Berne. Frustratingly, the UNC-Wilmington graduate has yet to advance past A-ball and did not do much to impress at Visalia - struggling to a .210/.288/.343 slash line across just 29 games and 118 PA. Berne represents yet another prospect that has unfortunately been hampered by the pandemic as he only has two full seasons of professional ball under his belt going into a season where he will turn 26. Even MLB Trade Rumors describes him as a flyer for the D-Backs and I can’t help but agree, but I am glad to see Hazen at least receive something in exchange for Vogt.
Ultimately, Vogt’s tenure with the D-Backs was a disappointment. He failed to produce offensively, and while his defense was not a liability - posting a 0 DRS for the 2021 season - it was difficult to justify keeping him on the roster when younger players needed the repetitions to prove themselves for the next competitive D-Backs team. While I do feel badly for Vogt - especially as he undergoes a sports hernia surgery and recovery - he might still be given an opportunity to platoon somewhere in the league between his left-handedness and ability to play multiple positions. And given his possible aspirations toward becoming a big league manager and joining the long, long line of former catchers morphing into managers, Vogt’s future in the MLB likely isn’t over yet. Regardless, I wish him the best of luck and hope that he can keep himself healthy.