After four terrible seasons Kurt Suzuki had to settle for a one-year, $2.75 million deal this offseason, but now he’s having a career-year for the Twins and made his first All-Star team at age 30.
Not surprisingly the Twins thought a contract extension was a topic worth broaching with Suzuki, but Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press says those talks didn’t go very far at all:
According to two people with direct knowledge, the Twins and Dan Lozano, Suzuki’s agent, had exploratory talks about extending the catcher’s expiring contract. Establishing fair contract parameters, however, appears to be a challenge as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
Armed with a combined on-base/slugging percentage of .753 — 62 points higher than his career rate — Suzuki must weigh the security of putting down roots in the Twin Cities after being traded in August the past two seasons. If Suzuki can maintain his offensive resurgence for another couple of months, he could cash in this winter on his second pass through the free-agent market.
This season Suzuki is hitting .305 with a .753 OPS in 82 games.
Last season Suzuki hit .232 with a .627 OPS in 94 games.
Combined during the previous four seasons Suzuki hit .237 with a .650 OPS in 477 games.
It’s definitely possible that Suzuki will cash in big as a free agent following the season, since decent-hitting catchers are forever tough to find and his defensive reputation has always been very good, but it’s also hard to blame the Twins for not wanting to break the bank on a 30-year-old having a career-year after looking washed up for 500 games.
And if extension talks continue to go nowhere, the Twins may look to shop Suzuki before July 31.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.