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.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.