On Friday, Aug. 3 the Washington Nationals made a trade to become a little deeper at a position that had otherwise been ravaged by injury all year.
Kurt Suzuki is a 6-year veteran catcher the team brought in from Oakland in exchange for David Freitas, a 23-year-old prospect who was tearing it up at Class A – Potomac (.271/.374/.407). The Nationals organization sacrificed youth – Freitas was a top 15 prospect – for the stability of Suzuki, who’s batting average may not reflect it currently (.214), but the career .253 hitter brings a consistency at the plate they were missing at the catcher position. Through 72 games, the displaced starter in Jesus Flores is hitting just .220 with 3 HR and 19 RBI.
Suzuki’s addition finally brings reassurance to the catcher position that the team hasn’t had since opening day starter Wilson Ramos tore his ACL while making a defensive play in Cincinnati in early May. The Nationals saw a series of injuries at the position in the weeks that followed, but with other holes to address through the trade market, their obvious need at catcher was pushed to the back burner.
The Nationals have been thrilled with the 28-year-old Suzuki, who finally broke out last Monday in San Francisco when he belted out 3 hits in a 6 at-bat performance, which included two doubles and 4 RBI.
In an appearance on the Mike Wise Show, Kurt said of the trade:
“I’m excited. This is my first time ever in a playoff race. I couldn’t be more excited. We’ve got a big series tonight against Atlanta. I just try to take it game by game. I’m not trying to look too far ahead into the future.”
Kurt Suzuki had a calming effect over the phone; a trait you can see easily carries into his psychological coddling of pitchers.
“I don’t get too crazy, I just kind of keep it simple. Just talk to ‘em. Just try to calm ‘em down and get ‘em back into a good place. Because things usually get racey and this game speeds up on you real fast and I just try to slow things down a little bit.”
Suzuki told Mike Wise he’s really enjoyed catching Gio Gonzalez again, whom he caught for 4 seasons in Oakland. Kurt told Mike Wise he’s impressed with all the guys in the rotation so far – that they all throw hard and are very talented. But what does he think of the number one starter/phenom/shelved-before-the-playoffs Stephen Strasburg?
“I always knew he had a power arm and his stuff was pretty electric. But watching him pitch and watching him hit his spots and command his pitches has been the impressive part that I’ve seen so far.”
Kurt tells Mike he has yet to find a permanent living structure in D.C. He’s been living out of a hotel just down the street from Nationals Park since trade, but says that’s all about to change. He says his wife is planning to fly out from Southern California after the team’s next road trip, at which point they plan to look for a house in Arlington.
Suzuki still has 1-year left after this season on his 4-year/$16.25 million deal, with an option for 2014.