The Angels will benefit from the addition of free-agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, both on and off the field this upcoming season.
After rumblings GM Perry Minasian was on the hunt for a catcher this week, he found his guy. The Angels have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with free-agent Kurt Suzuki.
Suzuki, 37, was one of the available catchers I suggested the Angels go after this offseason. I believe this signing helps the team in more ways than one.
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For starters, this is as low-risk, high-reward of a deal as it gets. I originally thought Suzuki would be signed for a one-year, deal around the ~$5 million range. If accurate, this deal is nearly 20 percent of that original estimate.
The low salary still gives the team lots of payroll flexibility to bring in a high-priced free-agent pitcher(s) if the Angels choose. Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer is the first name that comes to mind.
There were reports the Angels were interested in trading for Cubs catcher Willson Conteras. On paper, that would provide a significant upgrade at the catching position, but likely would have meant the departure of top prospects. We won’t know for sure if the trade would be worth the gamble until the next season or two.
Suzuki is also a more than capable replacement for Max Stassi, who is expected to miss the start of the season following hip surgery. The duo will likely see some sort of platoon scenario whenever Stassi is ready to return.
The offensive numbers don’t jump off the page for Suzuki, but they are far from terrible.
Kurt Suzuki Last Five Seasons:
- 2016: (106 games) .258 BA 8 HR 49 RBI .704 OPS
- 2017: (81 games) .283 BA 19 HR 50 RBI .887 OPS
- 2018: (105 games) .271 BA 12 HR 50 RBI .776 OPS
- 2019: (85 games) .264 BA 17 HR 63 RBI .809 OPS
- 2020: (33 games) .270 BA 2 HR 17 RBI .745 OPS
Suzuki is also an excellent defender behind the plate. The veteran holds a .994 fielding percentage in 14-big league seasons.
Having a respected catcher like Suzuki doesn’t just attract free agents, but it provides excellent development for the team’s pitchers and Stassi. Suzuki was a key member of the Nationals 2019 World Series team. It’s not often you find that kind of experience on the streets.
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Joe Maddon has a history of valuing veteran catchers on his teams. Suzuki should be a perfect fit for the Angels in 2021.