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.
Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.
Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.
All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:
That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.