Kurt Suzuki Rumors

Central Rumors: Hart, Pelfrey, Suzuki, Cubs, Indians

Today's news out of the AL and NL Central..


A’s Exercise Options On Crisp, Anderson; Options On Young, Suzuki Declined

The Athletics announced that they have exercised their $7.5MM club option on Coco Crisp as well as their $8MM club option on Brett Anderson and declined their $11MM option and Chris Young and $8.5MM option on Kurt Suzuki. Young and Suzuki will receive respective buyouts of $1.5MM and $650K.

The news comes as a $7.5MM birthday gift for Crisp, who turns 34 years old today. The switch-hitting center fielder enjoyed the best offensive season of his 12-year career in 2013, slashing .261/.335/.444 with a career-best 22 homers. He chipped in 21 steals in 26 tries and was six runs above average in center field, per The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric (he was roughly average, per UZR), making the decision a no-brainer.

Anderson, who turns 26 in February, pitched just 44 2/3 innings for the A's this season. He compiled an unsightly 6.04 ERA in that time, though metrics such as FIP (3.85) and xFIP (3.26) suggest he was the recipient of some misfortune. Indeed, his 9.3 K/9 and 69.2 percent ground-ball rate seem to indicate that he should've had better superficial numbers, though his 4.2 BB/9 rate was a drastic departure from his typically excellent control.

Anderson would have been arbitration eligible had the A's declined his option. They could've had him for less than the $8MM he will receive in 2014, but declining his option would have also negated the $12MM club option the team holds on his free agent season. Essentially GM Billy Beane decided to pay Anderson an extra $1-1.5MM with the belief that he will remain healthy and look like a bargain at $12MM in 2015, as his career numbers through 2012 indicate he would.

Young hit just .200/.280/.379 with 12 homers and 10 steals in 2013 after coming over from the D-Backs in the three-team deal that sent Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington to Arizona and prospects to the Marlins.

Suzuki was acquired in an August waiver trade that was necessitated by injuries to John Jaso and Derek Norris. He batted a strong .303/.343/.545 with a pair of homers in 35 plate appearances for the A's but hit just .232/.290/.337 overall between the Nationals and A's. With Jaso and Norris both present in the long-term, Suzuki will look for a new team this offseason, as Oakland likely doesn't have a roster spot for him even on a cheaper one-year deal.


Athletics Acquire Kurt Suzuki

Kurt Suzuki is headed back to Oakland.  After just over a calendar year in Washington, the Nats and A's have officially announced a trade that will send Suzuki back to Oakland in exchange for Class-A right-hander Dakota Bacus Oakland will reportedly assume about $675K of Suzuki's remaining $1.34MM salary as well.  The Athletics' catching depth is currently compromised, with John Jaso on the DL for a concussion and Derek Norris suffering a broken toe suffered on Tuesday. 

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It's likely that Suzuki, a favorite of manager Bob Melvin, will platoon with current A's backstop Stephen Vogt.  A 29-year-old Hawaii native, Suzuki was originally drafted out of Cal State-Fullerton by the A's in the second round in 2004, a few picks after Hunter Pence and Dustin Pedroia.  The Red Sox, in fact, wrestled between picking Pedroia or Suzuki in that draft, wrote WEEI's Alex Speier a few years ago.

Instead, Suzuki debuted with the A's in 2007 and managed to hit 15 home runs in 2009.  The following season, he signed a four-year, $16.25MM extension with Oakland, which still marks the largest contract for a catcher with between three and four years of big league service (though it has since been topped by Buster Posey and Carlos Santana, who had less than three years).  Suzuki talked about the extension in-depth with B.J. Rains for MLBTR in Spring Training this year.  The contract has an $8.5MM club option for 2014 that becomes guaranteed with 113 starts this year, but Oakland does not have enough games remaining for that to become possible.  So, it will remain a club option, which is likely to be declined.  

Suzuki is surely feeling déjà vu with this trade, having been dealt to a contender on Aug. 3 last year when the Nats acquired him for minor league catcher David Freitas.  Suzuki had a nice run offensively for the Nationals last year, but he's dropped off in 2013, hitting just .222/.283/.310 with three homers.  Now, he's returned to the organization that drafted him, tweeting that he's "pumped to be back and ready to go make a run at this."

Bacus, 22, was selected by the A's in the ninth round of the 2012 draft. In 121 1/3 innings for Beloit this season, he's posted a 3.56 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. At the time of the draft, Baseball America noted (subscription required) that Bacus — Indiana State's ace — led his team to a Missouri Valley Conference championship. He sits 90-92 mph with his fastball and features a slider and change-up, though his lack of swinging strikes makes him profile as a No. 4 starter.

Amanda Comak of the Washington Times was the first to report that Suzuki was headed to the A's, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Nationals would receive Bacus and roughly $675K of salary relief.

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



2014 Vesting Options Update

As we turn to August, here's a look at the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  The Nats were relying on Suzuki during the first half of the season when Wilson Ramos was sidelined, but Ramos returned to action on July 4th, sliding Suzuki back down the depth chart.  The 29-year-old is 45 starts shy of the needed mark with 52 games remaining, so Suzuki's chances aren't too strong.  if/when the option doesn't vest, it'll become a club option worth $8.5MM with a modest $650K buyout.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. Carroll has 185 PAs in 53 games this season.  The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he'll have his work cut out for him in 2013.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and he'll begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday.  Needless to say, his option won't vest.
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.  Berkman has 282 plate appearances to his credit and the good news is that despite whispers that he might call it quits after his latest hip troubles, he pledges to return this season.  Unfortunately for him, his rehab assignment isn't scheduled to get underway until the end of this week and 550 sounds like a longshot.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  This was a longshot to begin with, but shoulder surgery earlier this season makes this one impossible.
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and has yet to return.  When he does come back, it's possible that the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has racked up 111 and 1/3 innings through 21 starts this season.  Zito probably won't get to lock in his sizable 2014 salary.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.

It's also worth noting that Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels – $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM – based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury.  It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however.  The left-hander made his season debut on May 11th and has a 2.02 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 through 16 starts this season.


2014 Vesting Options Update

As we enter July, let's check on the players who are hoping to lock in their options for the 2014 season..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  The Nats planned to have Suzuki split time at catcher with Wilson Ramos, but Suzuki has started 59 games (counting tonight's game against the Brewers) behind the plate thanks to Ramos' hamstring troubles.  Ramos is currently rehabbing in the minors, however, and he could be back in action for the club on Thursday, according to the latest update from Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Suzuki is slashing just .226/.286/.332, so it stands to reason that Ramos will see the lion's share of starts if he stays healthy.  If Suzuki doesn't reach 113 starts, the Nats will have an $8.5MM club option with a $650K buyout. 
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.  The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years but has just 146 PAs so far.  
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and just resumed baseball activities late last week.  Couple that with Manny Machado holding down third base and it's hard to see Betemit's option vesting.
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. So far, Berkman is has 268 plate appearances through 64 games this season.  Berkman scared the baseball world when he took a tumble down the stairs of the team plane and tweaked his troublesome right knee, but the injury is said to be minor and shouldn't cost him serious time.  In 2011, his last full season, the slugger racked up 587 PAs.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  This was a longshot anyway, but shoulder surgery in May makes this an impossibility.
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and is still working towards his return.  When he does come back, the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.   
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has 91 and 1/3 innings to his credit through 16 starts this season.  He'll still need some things to go in his favor, but so far his chances of locking up 2014 are still alive.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.

Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels – $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM – based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of an injury to his non-throwing arm.  However, it's not known how many days he has to avoid missing time due to his right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option.  Liriano returned to action on May 11th and has looked strong in ten starts.  The left-hander has a 2.23 ERA on the year with 9.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.


2014 Vesting Options Update

With two months of baseball in the books, here's a look at the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  Suzuki was slated to split time behind the plate with Wilson Ramos this season, but Ramos' hamstring has forced the club to give the veteran catcher 39 starts thus far (counting tonight's game).  The most recent update on Ramos, courtesy of the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, says that he'll be sidelined until around July 1st.  If Ramos heals up and takes starts away from Suzuki, it will be a club option worth $8.5MM with a modest $650K buyout.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. Carroll has 105 PAs in 27 games this season.  The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and a late May update (from Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com) indicates that he still hasn't been cleared for baseball activities.  
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. So far, Berkman has 199 plate appearances to his credit and is on pace to lock in his 2014 option with ease.  In 2011, his last full season, the slugger racked up 587 PAs.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  This was a longshot to begin with, but shoulder surgery earlier this month makes this one impossible.
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and has yet to return.  When he does come back, it's possible that the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has racked up 62 and 2/3 innings through eleven starts this season.  It's far from a lock, but as it stands the veteran still has a chance at securing his 2014 salary.  His numbers are strong as he has a 3.88 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.

It's also worth noting that Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels – $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM – based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury.  It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however.  The left-hander made his season debut on May 11th.


2014 Vesting Options Update

As we close in on the month of May, let's check in on the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season…

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  Prior to Opening Day, the Nats announced that Suzuki would be in a timeshare with Wilson Ramos behind the plate.  However, Ramos' hamstring has led to Suzuki starting 16 of the club's 23 games so far in 2013. Ramos is scheduled to rejoin the club on Monday, but if he suffers another setback, Suzuki could have a realistic shot at triggering his '14 option.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.  Carroll has surpassed that mark in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he has just 18 PAs as April comes to a close.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013).  Betemit suffered a PCL tear during the last week of Spring Training, keeping him out of action until at least mid-May.  When he returns, he figures to see less action than he did last year thanks to Manny Machado
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.  So far, Berkman has 19 games under his belt with 80 plate appearances.  He'll be within reach as long as he stays healthy.  In 2011, his last full season, Berkman racked up 587 PAs for the Cardinals.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  So far, Halladay has logged 28 and 1/3 innings through five April starts but the 259 mark remains a longshot.  However, it's worth nothing that Halladay has come close to that figure twice in the last six years (2008, 246 IP; 2010, 250.2 IP) and surpassed it once in his career (2003, 266 IP).
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  Myers is expected to miss most of May due to tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow.  So far, the right-hander has 21 and 1/3 innings to his credit in 2013.
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched.  Zito has 23 and 2/3 innings so far through the month of April and will make his fifth start of the year tonight against the Padres.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.

It's also worth noting that Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, but it can vest at any of three levels, $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM, based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury.  It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however.  Liriano has yet to take the hill in 2013, but he is expected to make his big league debut on May 10th vs. the Mets.  


Nationals Discuss Pre-Arbitration Extensions

The risk and reward that comes with signing an extension before or during a player’s first year of arbitration can be a tricky one. Players can take the guaranteed money and set themselves up for life or play out the arbitration years and try to cash in with a bigger payday down the road.  Washington’s Denard Span, Kurt Suzuki and Gio Gonzalez all signed early extensions and talked to MLBTR about their decisions.

Outfielder Denard Span (Signed a five-year, $16.25MM deal with Minnesota in March 2010):

“It was after my first full season in the big leagues, after the '09 season. It took me a little bit of time to get to the Major Leagues, I didn’t get there at 20 or 21 years old, so at the time the Twins came to me about the extension, it just made sense for me and my family. We realized what we possibly were leaving on the table if I had good years but we also thought about the risk of if I got hurt or anything like that. It just made sense for my situation.

“My agent set out numbers and I remember after my best year in '09, he said if you just do this for the next two, three years and don’t take this contract, this is what you would get in arbitration so we compared the numbers and it was a little bit of a discount to take the contract at the time and he put that out there, but the decision was ultimately my decision.

“I’ve been on the DL the past few years so I’d like to think it worked out fine but there’s so many unknowns and that’s the risk you take when you're dealing with any kind of guaranteed contract, whether to take it or play your cards and wait for that big payday.

“I wouldn’t say it was an easy decision. It was something that me and my family had to pray about. It was a situation where we felt like if I were to get hurt and never play again, at least all the hard work that I’ve put forth in this game, I’d at least have something to walk away from. That was one of the determining factors. I realized that when this contract is up, I wouldn’t be naturally young but I wouldn’t be old. I’m going to be 31, lord willing when I’m a free agent, so what I didn’t get in the beginning, I believe that I’m going to get at the end.”

Catcher Kurt Suzuki (Signed a four-year, 16.25MM deal with Oakland in July 2010):

“It’s a tough decision obviously. At the time you work so had to get to a point to where you're starting to get paid I guess and I think I was signed during my last season before arbitration, so it was the year leading up to arbitration, and obviously I knew I was going to arbitration next year but the multi-year deal, to have the security for your family, it was hard to look that much money in the mirror and say I don’t want it, I’m going to wait. You get security for your family. It’s a pretty good chunk of change. It was hard to turn down. Some guys take that route and some guys don’t. I thought it was a deal where I felt it was enough security for my family and I. I was married at the time.

“Obviously if you sign a long term deal before arbitration years, you’re going to have to take a discount because you’re obviously not in line to make the money yet. You’re kind of predicting the future so you have to take a little bit of a discount but at the same time, how much of a discount you want to take, you have to ask yourself and what are you happy with. After deciding with my wife, we felt OK with taking the deal and having that security.

“You break it down and you have comparables. My case was a little different because they said I didn’t have many comparables. I don’t know, they just said there wasn’t many people to compare me with that signed multi-year deals so like Russell Martin was a comparable but he didn’t sign a multi-year deal so it was kind of hard to gauge off somebody for a deal.

“There’s a risk. It was an amount that my wife and I felt comfortable with and it was worth taking. Later on I might have been looking to make more, obviously if I went year to year, but at the same time, we felt that money was sufficient enough to take the deal. I’m happy with how it worked out. Obviously there’s a chance you could have made more money but at the same time, with how things [worked] out I think it was a good deal.

“Denard and I talk about it all the time. He comes from Minnesota who has the similar philosophies as Oakland to try and lock players up long term before their arbitration years and we talked about giving up money but we also talked about how its hard to turn that much money down because you’re making a really good amount of money. The Major League minimum is a really good amount, but when you’re talking millions of dollars, to turn that down is tough to do. When you get offered that much money in your face, what are you going to do?”

Pitcher Gio Gonzalez (Signed a five-year, $42MM deal with Washington in January 2012, a record at the time for a first-year arbitration eligible pitcher. He was traded from Oakland just a month earlier): 

“I looked at as you know what? The organization gave me a chance to play and Mike Rizzo (Nationals GM) believed in me from the beginning and he gave me something that I felt was reasonable and gave me an opportunity and I said why not? The only way to keep getting up there and is keep improving and try to make the best of it.

“You also look at the team and the guys that were coming up, you had Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, you had all these guys and the pieces they were putting together, I felt like that rotation was going to get better and better and I was like why not be a part of it?

“I think it was just me wanting to play baseball and I think it helped secure my family and me and it almost was to the point where it was like, you can roll the dice and see what happens, but you can never promise tomorrow. I was more excited to play here than anything. It was a new team, new uniform, I think the thing that really drove me to want to play here more was the fact that ‘Rizz’ believed in me from the beginning. He didn’t question anything and he gave me a opportunity and I felt like he gave me a great price for what was reasonable. He didn’t skyrocket me but he got me right where I needed to be to go out there and prove my performance.

“I liked it. Like I said, nothing is promised tomorrow. I think what ‘Rizz’ did was more than reasonable. He thought it was fair, I thought it was fair. We worked both sides out with no complaints. I was ready to grab a baseball and start pitching. Trust me, I was thinking way beyond the money. I was thinking more like World Series. Let’s go. Great rotation, great offense and defense. I was more than happy to play for them.”


2014 Vesting Options

Recently, I crunched the numbers on vesting options from the last three years and found that just over 29% of them were triggered.  Which players can lock in their 2014 options based on their performance this season?  Let's take a look..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013).
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: $25MM option vests with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award.

It's also worth noting that Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, but it can vest at any of three levels, $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM, based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury.


Nationals Notes: Lerner, Suzuki, Young

The Nationals are keeping their focus on their short-term chances of contending, owner Mark Lerner said during a chat with reporters (including The Washington Times' Amanda Comak) at the team's Spring Training camp.  The club's payroll is now over $100MM and while they don't want to go overboard with spending, “this is a special year," Lerner said. "We have obviously incredible talent and there was a couple parts that [general manager Mike Rizzo] wanted and we said, ‘Do what you need to do,’ and that’s basically how it happened."  Lerner said the Nats are concerning themselves with the next three seasons and aren't yet concerned about keeping Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in Washington over the long term.  The two young stars are team-controlled through the 2016 and 2018 seasons, respectively.

Here are some more items from the Nats' camp…

  • Also from Lerner, he said that he and Rizzo would "talk when the time is right" about a contract extension.  "I think this is the place where he wants to make his home and we certainly want him to be here, so I’m sure we’ll come to some understanding at some point in time," Lerner said.  Rizzo's contract is only guaranteed through this season but the Nationals hold options on the general manager for 2014 and 2015.
  • Kurt Suzuki hasn't talked to management about a contract extension but says he'd love to remain with the Nats beyond this season, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports.  Washington holds an $8.5MM team option on Suzuki for 2014 that right now seems unlikely to be exercised since Wilson Ramos is waiting in the wings at catcher.  It's possible the Nationals could decline the option and still re-sign Suzuki at a lower price.
  • Also from Ladson (Twitter link), the Nationals had interest in Chris Young during the 2010-11 offseason but didn't sign him after seeing the MRI results of Young's throwing shoulder.  Young had another injury-plagued season with the Mets in 2011 but rebounded to make 20 starts in 2012.  The Nats signed Young to a minor league deal today.