The Washington Nationals trade for catcher Kurt Suzuki has paid huge dividends. The team got Suzuki from the Oakland Athletics for minor league catcher David Frietas on August 3rd. Since he joined the team Washington has a record of 26-14. They are currently 89-57 and in first place in the NL East.
Suzuki was brought to Washington to take the place of Jesus Flores. Flores was expected to be the team’s backup catcher going into 2011. He took over full time when Wilson Ramos suffered a season ending knee injury in May. As a starter, Flores did a very good job of handling the Nationals pitching staff. However, not used to playing regularly he began to wear down physically and Washington thought it time to get a veteran catcher that was used to the grind.
When Flores was told of the team’s plan to trade for Suzuki he was not happy. Flores felt he deserved a chance to remain the Nationals every day catcher and didn’t feel he was wearing down. The Washington brass thought otherwise.
Suzuki came to Washington with a reputation as being a good handler of pitchers, solid in his mechanics and with a strong arm. With Oakland he had worked with Nationals left hander Gio Gonzalez who highly recommended him. Once acquired, Suzuki was immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
Since joining the Nationals Suzuki has been everything advertised. He has handled the Washington pitching staff expertly. He has been solid behind the plate. When given the chance he has displayed a strong arm in throwing out runners trying to steal second base. Most of the stolen bases against Washington have been off slow deliveries by Nationals pitchers.
Where Suzuki has been a pleasant surprise is at the plate. After starting out slowly he is currently batting a respectable .255 with 4 home runs and 16 runs batted in. Like his teammates Suzuki has come up with his share of big hits. Almost all of his home runs have come when the Nationals needed them most.
With Suzuki in the lineup Washington has solidified its offense and defense going into the post season. He will be called on to handle a pitching staff in which Edwin Jackson is the only starter with playoff experience. This was the Nationals plan for him when making the trade.
With their current record and first place status no matter what happens in the post season, Washington’s trade for Suzuki has already paid huge dividends.