It wasn’t that long ago when Oakland Athletics catcher looked like one of the upcoming catchers in Major League Baseball after a very good 2009 season and yet three years later he’s traded to the Washington Nationals along with cash for catching prospect David Freitas.
Suzuki in 2009 hit .274 with 15 home runs, 37 doubles, a triple, 88 rbi and an obp of .313 and he was among the best defensively and at calling games. Yet, starting in 2010 his offensive numbers started to plunge to where a change of scenery with the Nationals may rejuvenate his career because he’s hitting .218 with one home run, 15 doubles, 18 rbi and a obp of .250.
Even with the struggles offensively he has helped the young A’s rotation in leading the American League in era at 3.43 and the three rookies are Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. The A’s added a fourth rookie starter to the rotation in calling up Daniel Straily as Travis Blackley moved to the bullpen.
Another struggle had been throwing out base runners and even in 2009 when he became one of the better catchers in baseball he threw out just 25 percent. In 2010 he threw out 22 percent, 2011 28 percent and this year he has made significant strides in that percentage as he has thrown out 38.3 percent, which is second in the A.L.
The one thing that he can do regardless of how he’s hitting or not being able to throw out base runners and that is his ability to call games and handle a young pitching staff. A fresh start should do him wonders and he will show the Nationals why he was so highly regarded.
With recently acquired George Kottaras being the only catcher on the roster there’s two options for the team to bring in a veteran catcher such as bringing back former A Ramon Hernandez or the recently designated for assignment Yorvit Torrealba. Other options would include bringing back Derek Norris or Josh Donaldson from Sacramento.
As for Freitas he’s in High A ball and is hitting .271 with five home runs, 22 doubles, 46 rbi and a obp of .374 and he has thrown out 33 percent of the runners trying to steal.
While the Nationals upgraded at catcher the A’s made a move to free up salary and hand Norris the starting job in 2013. For now it will be interesting to see what move gets made to add a catcher to the roster.