It has been reported that the Oakland Athletics have reacquired Kurt Suzuki from the Washington Nationals. The catcher told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he was “pumped” but also “shocked.” The latter word is the same one that Suzuki used to describe his emotions last summer when he spoke about leaving with Slusser.
Suzuki also discussed his respect for manager Bob Melvin, and said he expects that his unexpected return should be “fun.” The catcher should be in uniform today as the Athletics take on the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Derek Norris, who suffered a break in his left big toe Tuesday, will head to the DL. In the swap for Suzkui, the Athletics sent 22-year-old Dakota Bacus to the Nationals. The pitcher, who was selected in the ninth round of the 2012 draft, was 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA for the Single-A Beloit Snappers.
The Nationals will also pick up half of Suzuki’s remaining salary in 2013, which works out to be about $675,000. Washington will also throw in $325,000 to cover half of Suzuki’s buyout for next season. The catcher has an option for $8.5 million in 2014 otherwise.
So, the Athletics will be paying Suzuki exactly one million dollars ($675,000 salary and $325,00 buyout) for his services. However, there’s also last year’s contributions that need to be factored in, as well.
When the Athletics shipped Suzuki to Washing D.C. on August 3 of last year, Oakland received catcher David Freitas in return. Freitas is currently getting the majority of the at-bats for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. However, after spending the most of the season in Double-A, the team was clearly less than comfortable in pulling him up for the stretch drive.
The team also sent undisclosed cash considerations to the Nationals last August to offset part of Suzuki’s earnings.
In a way, the club was already paying Suzuki, so it only makes sense that he actually plays for them now. Suzuki has not been brought in for his bat as he’s currently hitting .223 and has a .593 OPS. The team sent him out last August because he was essentially just an expensive version of Norris, a light-hitting backstop who is great behind the plate.
The reason that Suzuki has been brought back is because he is so respected in the clubhouse for the work he does with the pitchers. Jarrod Parker, who has stepped up to become the staff ace, is a big fan of Suzuki in particular. Here’s what the right-hander tweeted out when Suzuki was traded away last summer:
Rough day losing @kurtsuzuki one of the best guys I ever played with & met in this game I’ve learned so much from him he will be missed.
— Jarrod Parker (@JarrodBParker) August 3, 2012
Here’s what he had to say upon learning of the catcher’s return:
— Jarrod Parker (@JarrodBParker) August 23, 2013
Suzuki won’t add much to the team’s floundering offense, so perhaps the team will still need to swing yet another waiver-wire deal. It would also be far easier to add a bat at a corner spot (like right field) rather than a premier defensive position like catcher.
The addition of Suzuki, though, could prove vital for a number of reasons. First, the Athletics are down to just one healthy catcher. To be able to get a proven big-league veteran, let alone one who probably knows the pitchers better than any other catcher in the organization, is incredibly valuable at this time of the year.
Plus, the Athletics have committed 18 errors over the past 20 games as they have let in 13 unearned runs in the process. The 29-year-old defensive stalwart could be just the spark that the struggling defense needs.