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A’s Reunite with Kurt Suzuki

August 23, 2013

Kurt Suzuki was drafted by the A’s out of Cal State Fullerton in the second round of the 2004 amateur draft. He moved up the A’s system before becoming their starting catcher spending 2007 through 2012 with the A’s before being traded on August 3rd, 2012 to the Washington Nationals in exchange for MiLB catcher David Freitas. In his Oakland career he had 2,787 plate appearances and logged a .254/.311/.378 slash line with a .304 wOBA and 86 wRC+, making him worth a solid 11.2 WAR. After a little over a calendar year with the Nats he is back as the A’s desparate for catching help with Derek Norris‘ broken toe, reacquired him from Washington in exchange for MiLB pitcher Dakota Bacus.

For the expected-to-be contender Nats this year, Suzuki has hit .222/.283/.310 with a .257 wOBA and 58 wRC+ and 0.1 WAR not exactly light the world on fire numbers, but a good pick up for the A’s down the stretch when it appears few catchers are hitting the waiver wire and the A’s have a decided lack of depth in their system. In 79 games and 281 plate appearances he has three home runs, has walked 7.1% of the time and struck out in just 11.4% of his times at the plate. He has had a low .240 BABIP but the slow moving Zuk has always had that with a .268 career mark. With at least 650 innings on the field, Suzuki is second best at blocking pitches as per RPP (Passed Pitch Runs) with a 4.7 mark only trailing Yadier Molina, so his blocking should also help A’s pitchers out.

To reunite with Suzuki, the A’s sent former Indiana State product Bacus to our nation’s capital. A 9th round selection in 2012, this year he spent with the Beloit Snappers where he appeared in 28 games with 16 starts and 121 1/3 innings of 3.56 ERA and 3.42 FIP baseball based upon 6.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 baseball. John Sickels of Minor League Ball said of him that he has,

“exceptional command of a low-90s fastball, slider, and changeup.”

I like the move. I always liked Suzuki even if his production seemed in perpetual decline-to-freefall and this move shores up the A’s thin catching core. Suzuki is a gamer who can take a beating and the A’s only assuming $675K of the remaining $1.3M on his contract it seems like a good move. Bacus has potential but I don’t see him as a huge loss when the A’s are trying to win now and stop the bleeding as they fall in the standings facing in particular a resurgent New York Yankees squad along with a decidedly reloaded Texas Rangers team distancing themselves in the AL West standings. There is no risk of Suzuki’s option vesting via playing time (it is mathematically impossible) and the A’s are almost assured to decline the club option they possess. Little risk to this one.

As for other moves, the A’s have a free 40-man spot and I presume Norris will be placed on the 15-day disabled list to heal.

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