As we eagerly await the Major League debut of stud prospect Dan Straily tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays, news has broken that Kurt Suzuki has been dealt to the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league catcher David Freitas.
Kurt has been a mainstay behind the dish for the A’s ever since taking over catching duties from Jason Kendall when he was called up in 2007. He was expected to be a solid all around catcher, hitting, working well with pitchers, and providing solid defense behind the plate and through his first few years he seemed destined to do all of that. But after what we all thought was a breakout 2009 season for Kurt, his offensive production began to decline rather sharply. Perhaps it was his tireless work ethic and desire to be in the game every day that simply took its toll on his body and eroded his skills. Either way though Kurt Suzuki was always a model player and embodied everything a team and a fan base wants to see when someone represents them.
David Freitas is a fairly well regarded catching prospect in the Nationals organization with a .288/.398/.437 line through 3 seasons on 3 levels of A ball. The 23 year old may be a little old for his level, but could turn into a late bloomer or perhaps a valuable complimentary trade chip for Billy Beane in the future if he continues to produce.
With the departure of Suzuki, the Derek Norris era will begin, although it will have to wait a week or so until he can be recalled since he was just optioned to make room for newly acquired George Kottaras. So for now the catching duties will be in the hands of Kottaras and presumably Anthony Recker will be his back up.
I had hoped that Suzuki would stay for the duration of this season and would get to experience the A’s battling it out in a pennant race, but it was not meant to be. He has a decent salary that will come off the books now, which could perhaps open the door for improvements to be made in other areas of the roster. Kurt will be reunited with his old battery mate Gio Gonzalez in Washington, something that I’m sure will ease the heartbreak of his first trade. He’s also landing on his feet as the Nationals are currently in 1st place in the NL East and have the 2nd best record in all of baseball.
We wish Kurt nothing but the best as he moves on from the Athletics. He may not have turned into the catching force we all had hoped for, but he sure did the A’s proud.