Late Thursday afternoon, right after the Washington Nationals fought back to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 in a 13 inning marathon and take the series 3-1, there was a bit of a buzz kill. As the team celebrated their third straight win and were getting ready for the trip to face the Kansas City Royals this weekend they found out that catcher Kurt Suzuki had been traded to the Oakland A’s, the team the Nationals got him from in the first place.
The Nationals have called up Jhonatan Solano to back up the team’s number one catcher, Wilson Ramos. Solano has played in 16 games with Washington and is currently at Triple-A Syracuse.
The deal was simple; Oakland is battling the Texas Rangers for American League West title and were in a desperate need of a catcher. They lost their two starting catchers in John Jason, who remains on the disabled list with a concussion, and Derek Norris, who suffered a broken toe in a game Tuesday. The Nationals, seemingly out of the playoff hunt, could part with the catcher and get a pitcher that they think has a solid future.
Washington will get 22 year-old, pitching prospect Dakota Bacus, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander who throws the ball in the low to mid 90s. He also features a slider and change-up, though his lack of swinging strikes makes him a possible 3-5 starter. To the Nationals he was the key to making the deal because their scouting staff have been impressed with the durability of the young pitcher and he will likely be sent to the Nationals’ class A team at Potomac or their double A team in Harrisburg.
Presently, Bacus has pitched 121.1 innings for the Beloit (Wis.) Snappers of the class A Midwest League. He has a 3.56 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and he was the the A’s 9th round selection in the 2012 draft out of Indiana State where he led his team to a Missouri Valley Conference championship.
Meanwhile, Suzuki will be missed because he was well liked by the entire team. He was also a fan favorite, but his best friend and former Oakland teammate Gio Gonzalez will likely miss him the most. He also was great mentor to Ramos and helped him in a number of ways over the past year.
In the offseason Washington will need to find a veteran catcher to back up the somewhat injury prone Ramos, who has yet to make it through an entire season in Washington. At the moment the trade seems to be a fair one since Suzuki has not been playing much as of late and Oakland was willing to send Washington a solid pitching prospect.