Examining Oakland Athletics’ Catching Needs For 2016

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Jun 24, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Stephen Vogt (21) and catcher Josh Phegley (19) celebrate the two run home run hit by Phegley last season. Both are the A's slated catchers for 2016 Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Stephen Vogt (21) and catcher Josh Phegley (19) celebrate the two run home run hit by Phegley last season. Both are the A's slated catchers for 2016 Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Same Duo As Last Year – But Where From There?

With Oakland Athletics catchers and pitchers reporting this week to spring training, the A’s are taking their first look of All-Star Stephen Vogt who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in January.

Early reports coming out of camp state Vogt will be ready for the start of the season where he is expected to be the Athletics’ starting catcher. Over the past two seasons though, he has seen himself get banged up with foot injuries in 2014, a bruised wrist in June 2015,  and a wicked couldn’t-watch-a-second-time foul tip off his groin last Sept. 6. Because of these injuries, Vogt saw 25 games at first base in 2015. This season may be no different as being the A’s regular backstop for a full season could take its toll on his 31-year-old body.

As a first-time All-Star last season, Vogt batted .261 with 18 home runs and 71 RBIs in 136 games for the 68-94 last place Athletics. However, 14 of those home runs were in the first half of the season when he was batting .287 going into the All-Star game. His production dropped to .217 and only 4 HRs in 51 games after the Mid-Summer Classic.

Josh Phegley is slated to be the back-up to Vogt. In 2015 he appeared in 73 games with a .249 BA – about the league average for catchers, but the now-28-year-old struggled against right-handed pitching with only a .220 average. Expect him to face southpaw pitching when Vogt needs a day off. 

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Phegley has the tools to make a massive jump in production this season with more playing time. He has a strong arm to keep runners off the base paths and, with practice, could evolve to calling a good game with senior pitchers such as Rich Hill or Henderson Alvarez. Even youngster Sonny Gray could be considered “seasoned” by now and have no issues with Phegley behind the dish.

The A’s had expected to develop Jacob Nottingham, who was a highly touted prospect acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade to Houston at the deadline last July. Nottingham could hit with power and was being groomed to be the catcher of the future. But, Oakland sacrificed Nottingham as part of a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers that brought over outfielder Khris Davis, who also has a strong bat and can play left field.

Since the A’s are one glaring collision or nasty foul ball from losing one of their two big league catchers, they re-signed Bryan Anderson earlier this month. At 29, Anderson has been with three different major league teams – Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and A’s – in five MLB seasons with only 77 at-bats in 40 games. The Athletics acquired Anderson from the Cincinnati Reds in August 2014 where he was in their minor league system – and pretty much where he’s stayed since.

Look for Billy Beane et. al. to be scanning waiver wires this spring to bring a veteran backstop into the organization as a safety net.

Next: Will Jesse Hahn Be Healthy By Opening Day?

Should the Oakland Athletics look to acquire a veteran catcher to backup Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below! 

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