A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki was a hot property two years ago. Young, productive and able to withstand an exceptionally heavy workload behind the plate, his name came up in plenty of rumors, even though there was nothing to suggest the A’s wanted to deal him.
And they didn’t, a fact they now surely regret. On Thursday, they called up youngster Derek Norris to split time with their struggling veteran.
Suzuki went from knocking in 88 runs in 2009 to 71 in 2010 and 44 last year. He still posted a solid enough .686 OPS last season, but this year, he’s all of the way down to .524. He’s hitting .215 with no homers and 16 RBI in 209 at-bats.
Maybe that’s an aberration, but it’s clear now that Suzuki, even though he’s still just 28, is no longer a building block for the A’s. Instead, he’s likely going on the trading block.
Finding a taker could be difficult. Suzuki is making $5 million this year and $6.45 million in 2014. Worse, he has an option for 2014 that vests at $9.25 million as long as he makes 113 starts.
Also, and this is unusual, there aren’t really any contenders looking for catching at the moment. The Nationals could use a stopgap to help out with Wilson Ramos out for the season, but they’re not going to take on Suzuki’s 2013 salary. The Pirates are searching for offense, but Suzuki probably isn’t enough of an upgrade over Rod Barajas to make his salary palatable.
So, the A’s are probably stuck with Suzuki for now, at least unless some more starting catchers get hurt.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.