Former Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt has been enjoying the most unique winter of his adult life.
No batting cages. No chest protectors. Lots of coaching his kids. Only an estimated nine total gym sessions.
“The most relaxing winter of my life,” Vogt said in an exclusive one-on-one interview with NBC Sports California. “Alyssa [Stephen’s wife] and I were joking that we’ve had more dinners with people we didn’t know this winter than we’ve had years combined.”
The 38-year-old Visalia, Calif., native, is preparing for his next great opportunity to continue in Major League Baseball in the state where his family currently resides. Vogt will join the Seattle Mariners in 2023 as their bullpen and quality control coach after considering three serious baseball job offers in January.
“It kind of just worked out where the Mariners were the best situation, the best offer, and being close to home -- we did the best we could to make it not be a factor in our decision making," Vogt said. "The cherry on top is that I get to be with my family more in a season than I ever have."
Although now a divisional opponent of the A's, Oakland will never be far from his heart, after two stints with the ball club.
"The emotions of those last few days in Oakland, that will be something that I cherish for the rest of my life," he said.
Vogt's first and final MLB hits were home runs, including the storybook plate appearance in last year's season finale.
The 2022 A's ended up losing 102 games, with a run deficit of minus-202. Vogt is very familiar with the transition and trajectory of what's going on with his former team.
"I definitely think they've improved already," Vogt said.
He applauded some of the versatile free agents Oakland acquired this winter. But like any good catcher, Vogt emphasized the A's pitching.
"Some of the young arms that came up, JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, those are two very, very good pitchers -- not just good arms but pitchers," Vogt said. "I really like the depth the pitching has right now.
"Far as the team being in a transitional period, I really like where the arms are at."
It will also be an important campaign for emerging position players like Nick Allen and Shea Langeliers, who debuted last year but now get the opportunity to be relied on daily.
"Coming into a season fresh is so valuable, it really is."
Vogt comes from a player perspective where nobody ever looks past the current season. But he's also well aware of the long-term search and monumental implications for a new A's ballpark.
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"These fans, these people in Oakland that love the A's, they need a team. The A's are an Oakland team," Vogt said. "It's just unfortunate how it's happened."
He became frustrated with the ups and downs of hearsay over the years after multiple promises and perceived momentum never actually materialized into something permanent.
"I just hope they get this resolved one way or another soon, so that people have clarity," Vogt said. "And have the ability to say, I know what's happening with my favorite team and their ballpark."