The Braves swung a late-night trade, their second deal of the week, on Friday, acquiring veteran catcher Stephen Vogt from the Diamondbacks in exchange for first base prospect Mason Berne.
Vogt, 36, is perhaps most known for his strong leadership qualities and bubbly presence in the dugout, though he’s had a great career, going to two All-Star games and playing nine seasons in the big leagues despite debuting at the age of 27 and getting off to one of the worst offensive starts in the history of Major League Baseball, going 0 for 32 over parts of two seasons to begin his career.
For most of his career he’s been considered an offense-first catcher, taking advantage of his ability to fill in at first base and in the outfield to make up for his below-average defense behind the plate. Vogt has experienced somewhat of a defensive renaissance since joining the Diamondbacks in 2020, though, posting 0.5 defensive bWAR over that span. He’s thrown out 33 percent of runners this year, his highest in a full season for his career.
Vogt hasn’t been great defensively since signing a two-year deal with Arizona, though. He has a .196/.286/.348 slash line since the beginning of the 2020 season, though he has done a better job of getting on base and providing power this year, hitting .212/.307/.386 with six doubles, a triple, and five homers in 151 plate appearances in 2021.
Vogt presumably will bump struggling backup catcher Kevan Smith off the Braves’ roster, though it’s perhaps possible that this could spell the end for veteran Pablo Sandoval (another elite clubhouse presence) in Atlanta. Sandoval still hasn’t started a game in the field this year and doesn’t have a hit since June 11, though he proved early in the year that he’s capable of providing game-changing pinch-hitting heroics when he’s in an offensive rhythm.
This is Atlanta’s second trade of the week, as they dealt for veteran outfielder Joc Pederson on Thursday, signifying that they still have some hope of competing for a playoff spot this season, even as they sit 4.0 games out in the NL East race and 8.0 games back for the second NL Wild Card spot.
Berne doesn’t hold much prospect value, as he’s 25 years old and has yet to advance past the Rookie level. The Diamondbacks obviously see something that intrigues them at least a little bit, though. Berne, a 33rd-round pick out of UNC Wilmington in 2018, has walked in 28 of his 251 career plate appearances, though there’s not a whole lot else to write home about at this point. He has a .231/.315/.344 career slash line and was hitting .250/.357/.500 in five games for the Braves’ Florida Complex League club this year.