As various sources have reported, the Nationals have acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash from the Oakland Athletics for minor league catcher David Freitas. Suzuki is having a down year offensively, hitting a paltry .218/.250/.286, down from his 2009 career-best season of .274/.313/.421. Suzuki has, however, remained a strong defensive catcher, throwing out a career-high 38% of attempted base stealers and leading AL catchers in fielding percentage. Current Nats starter Jesus Flores has, by contrast, thrown out only 10% of attempted base stealers. Suzuki also caught Gio Gonzalezwhen he pitched in Oakland. The 28-year-old Suzuki is owed approximately $3 million for the rest of this season and $6.45 million for the 2013 season, but it is not known how much money the Athletics contributed to the deal. He has a team option for 2014 for $8.5 million.
Suzuki’s acquisition gives the Nationals a veteran battery-mate for Flores who can relieve their fielding issues at catcher. GM Mike Rizzo said that he views Suzuki as a number one catcher, and that he will compete with Wilson Ramos, who is out with a torn ACL, for the starting job next season. It is unknown whether or not Suzuki will become the team’s number one catcher when he joins the Nationals, but Rizzo said it is likely that Sandy Leon will be optioned to AAA Syracuse to make room for Suzuki on the 25-man active roster. To make room for Suzuki on the 40-man roster, the team designated catcher Carlos Maldonado for assignment.
David Freitas was a 15th round pick for the Nationals out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2010. He has hit well in the minors, compiling a composite .288/.398/.437 line over parts of three season in three minor league levels, the highest being High-A Potomac this season. In a compilation of many Nationals top prospects rankings across the internet, including ones from Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law, the baseball blog Steal Of Home ranked Freitas as the 19th best prospect in the Nationals’ system.