On paper, the Washington Nationals already have a capable one-two duo of Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos as the team’s backstops going into 2013.
But just in case things don’t work out as they should on paper next season, the team has gone and found itself some insurance, signing catcher Chris Snyder to a minor league contract. Whether there will be an invite to Spring Training included in the deal is not yet clear, though one would have to imagine that it’d also be largely irrelevant.
Even if Snyder showed up to Spring Training with the Nationals, he would be unlikely to start the season with the team, not with Ramos poised to regain the starting catcher’s role that was his in 2012 before he went down with a torn ACL. Suzuki provided a solid presence behind the plate in Ramos absence, and will either be backing up the 25-year old or splitting duties, should Ramos legs not be completely healed.
For Snyder to have a role with the team next year, either of the incumbents would have to be out of the picture. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s not an impossibility: how Ramos will be able to handle a full time catcher’s workload in 2013 will be a question asked throughout camp, and Kurt Suzuki is set to leave town after next season, barring the team taking the unlikely step of picking up his $8.5 million option instead of the $650,000 buyout.
If Ramos is healthy, it’s likely that the Nats will look to move Suzuki, as his $6.45 million salary would make him a significantly overpaid backup catcher. That’s a role that Snyder should prove to be capable in; the .176/.295/.308 triple-slash in 2012 belies his above-average ability to draw walks, and the 31-year old has a fair bit of pop in his bat, with seven homers in 258 PA last year.
That said, the deal Snyder signed with the Nats is strictly to serve as an insurance policy, and Spring Training will tell whether the team will need to invoke it. If not, Snyder’s time in Washington may be short-lived.