The Oakland Athletics may be looking at backup options in case Stephen Vogt’s recovery time is extended.
Coming into the 2016 season, it seemed as though the Oakland Athletics had a solid plan when it came to the catcher. Stephen Vogt would likely be the everyday starting catcher while Josh Phegley would be Vogt’s backup. However, with Vogt recently undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, the A’s may be looking for some additional options when it comes to the catching position.
Vogt’s surgery has been described as minor and GM David Forst expects Vogt to be ready for Opening Day. Even though these are very optimistic views, not everything always goes according to plan. So, it seems as though the Athletics are taking action and coming up with some backup options.
For example, in mid-January, Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports reported that the Oakland Athletics inquired about Milwaukee Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Because of his injury-riddled 2015 season, Lucroy’s value was expected to drop despite normally being a very good ball player. Unfortunately, the price tag for Lucroy was still too high for the Athletics when they inquired about him this winter.
Then, on February 3, the A’s announced that they have added catching prospect Beau Taylor to the Non-Roster Invitee list for Spring Training. This announcement came less than a week after the team told the media about Vogt’s surgery. Taylor has never risen above the Double-A level in the minors, but is said to be one of the best defensive catchers in Oakland’s farm system. As Melissa Lockard from OaklandClubhouse reported, it is expected that he was invited in order to fill an extra catching spot left by Vogt, who will not see much playing time at the beginning of Spring Training. However, it would be interesting to think that the Athletics might use this time to evaluate Taylor on his ability to catch at the Major League level.
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Besides Vogt and Phegley, Oakland really only has Carson Blair as a backup catcher. Blair is currently in the minors, but did see some playing time with the A’s last season. Perhaps the Oakland Athletics are exhausting all of their possible options including taking a look at Taylor to see how he would perform if he were to be called up in 2016.
This is obviously all speculation, but it does seem like a good idea to have some sort of backup plan when it comes to the catcher. Whether the A’s are looking for options within their club or around the MLB, it is always better to be prepared for the worst than be scrambling to solve a problem at the last minute. Hopefully Vogt is able to successfully recover from his surgery and continue to provide quality defensive skills as a catcher, a powerful bat at the plate, and leadership in the clubhouse.