Undoing a trade made a year ago, the A’s have acquired Kurt Suzuki from the Nationals for pitching prospect Dakota Bacus.
Amanda Comak of the Washington Times was the first with the news Thursday night.
With Oakland’s No. 1 (John Jaso), No. 2 (Derek Norris) and No. 4 (Luke Montz) catchers all on the shelf, the A’s needed to find someone to share time with Stephen Vogt. Suzuki makes perfect sense as a stopgap, even though he’s hit just .223/.284/.311 in 251 at-bats for the Nationals this year. He spent six years with the A’s until being dealt last August, and he’s familiar with several of their pitchers.
When the A’s traded Suzuki a year ago, it was primarily a salary dump, and the Nationals wanted him because Wilson Ramos was out with a torn ACL. Ramos had since displaced Suzuki, rendering him expendable once again. Suzuki will be a free agent at season’s end. His $8.5 million club option is sure to be declined, leaving him with a $650,000 buyout.
The ironic twist in this is that the Suzuki acquisition will cost David Freitas his chance to join the A’s, at least for now. Freitas was the prospect the A’s got from the Nationals for Suzuki last year, and he was in line for the callup should Norris go on the DL with his fractured toe.
Bacus, 22, was Oakland’s ninth-round pick in the 2012 draft. He was 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA and a 90/38 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings for low Single-A Beloit this season. He wasn’t considered one of Oakland’s top 8-10 pitching prospects.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.