Nationals acquire catcher Kurt Suzuki from A’s

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By acquiring George Kottaras from the Brewers last week the A’s signaled that Kurt Suzuki would lose playing time behind the plate, but today they took that several steps further by trading Suzuki to the Nationals.

In return the A’s receive Single-A catching prospect David Freitas, who was a 15th-round pick in 2010 and has shown very good on-base skills in the minors.

Suzuki has been the A’s starting catcher for five-and-a-half seasons, is still just 28 years old, and has a strong defensive reputation, but he’s collapsed offensively since a nice year at the plate in 2009. Since then he’s hit just .235 with a .647 OPS in 340 games, including .218 with a .536 OPS this season.

Washington has been in the market for catching help since losing Wilson Ramos to a knee injury that required two surgeries, but Ramos said just yesterday that he expects to be fully recovered in time for spring training and Suzuki is signed for next season at $6.45 million with an $8.5 million option or $650,000 buyout for 2014.

Suzuki will bump Jesus Flores from the starting job down the stretch, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Nationals deal with having Ramos, Suzuki, and Flores heading into 2013. Oakland has Kottaras and Derek Norris ready to take over for Suzuki and did well to get a decent catching prospect while unloading Suzuki’s contract.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays in part of three-team deal

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.