Before trading recently acquired outfielder David DeJesus, the Washington Nationals moved veteran backup catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Oakland Athletics. About a year earlier, the Nationals traded for Suzuki who was a member of the Athletics prior to his deal to the Nationals. Now, Suzuki is on his way back to Oakland.
Though General Manager Mike Rizzo recently claimed the Nationals have one more run left in them, his actions have not supported his claim. DeJesus was a real talent to have at fourth outfielder and Suzuki was one of the best all around backup catchers in the league. However, sitting 8.5 games back in the wildcard did not look promising to Rizzo as far as making a playoff run so he moved a couple of pieces that he believed could provide some return.
The loss of Suzuki will only effect the Nationals negatively for the final month of this season. Suzuki’s contract has a club option for 2014 which Rizzo implied that the Nationals would not pick up after the 2013 season. Therefore, if the Nationals were in fact not going to make the playoffs with Suzuki, trading him can only be a plus in the long run. And chances are with the deep hole the Nationals are in they were not going to make the playoffs with Suzuki.
The trade of Suzuki also provided some salary relief, if only a little bit. To buy out Suzuki’s contract after next year, it would have cost the Nationals $650,000. This money can now be put to better use and help the franchise continue to build around their young core of talent. Though not enough to sign a current major leaguer, the Nationals now have money to sign another minor leaguer that they may not have kept in the system otherwise.
Now with the loss of Suzuki, the Nationals have to call up another catcher from AAA to back up Wilson Ramos. After the trade, Jhonatan Solano was called up from Syracuse to get more big league experience. Solano has played in the majors in the past, but more experience can never hurt and he may be there to stay now. If the Nationals did not want Suzuki on roster next year, it is likely they are not going to sign another catcher to play alongside Ramos. The more likely option, is to use a player already in house and develop him to play everyday in the event that Wilson Ramos gets hurt.
Clearly, Rizzo had a multitude of reasons for moving Suzuki via waivers. These reasons will not help the franchise immediately but should pay off in some form in the near future.