Suddenly void of catching depth after a series of injuries, the Oakland Athletics acquired Kurt Suzuki from the Washington Nationals early Friday. For Suzuki the move represents a homecoming of sorts, as the 29 year old spent the first five and a half years of his career with the A’s before being dealt to Washington a year ago.
Word that the two sides had reached an agreement first became public knowledge late Thursday night. Amanda Comak of the Washington Times learned from a source within the Nationals organization that Suzuki was on the move back to Oakland. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle learned a few hours later that Washington would be receiving right-handed minor leaguer Dakota Bacus and some salary relief in return.
Oakland’s need to add another catcher became apparent earlier this week. The team has already been coping with John Jason being on the shelf thanks to some lingering concussion symptoms. The situation became worse once Derek Norris suffered a broken toe on Tuesday. The injuries left Stephen Vogt as the only healthy backstop on the organization’s 40-man roster (Luke Montz has been out with a shoulder issue that will likely end his season) and none of the other catchers within the organization appear to be MLB-ready. An outside addition appeared inevitable.
Suzuki has been invaluable to the Nationals. Expected to share playing time with Wilson Ramos as the season began, Suzuki was thrust into the starting lineup once Ramos went down early on with a hamstring strain but has since seen his playing time diminish with Ramos healthy and back behind the plate. He’s hit .222/.283/.310 in 281 PA on the year, but has been an important veteran presence within the Nationals clubhouse. He’s seemingly a perfect fit for Oakland given his familiarity with the team’s pitching staff.
His contract contains an option for 2014 valued at $8.5 Million that would have vested with 114 games started on the year. Considering he’ll fall short of that mark, it becomes a team option that will almost assuredly be declined in the offseason.
Bacus, a 2012 9th Round pick, has spent the year with Oakland’s Class-A affiliate. He’s 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.335 WHIP over 121.1 IP (26 G, 16 GS). He possesses a decent fastball with a slider and changeup, according to multiple scouting reports, but lacks a true “swing and miss” pitch so he likely profiles as a back of the rotation option at best.
Bacus will join Washington’s Class-A affiliate in Hagerstown. The Nationals will presumably call up Jhonatan Solano from Triple-A to take Suzuki’s place on the active roster.