Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington reports that Davey Johnson named Kurt Suzuki the Nationals’ starting catcher headed in 2013 at today’s media conference.
Suzuki was originally acquired on August third from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor league catcher David Freitas, The need for a catcher became apparent after the Nationals saw Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores, Sandy Leon, Jhonathan Solano and Carlos Maldonado all battle injuries at one point or another, and Suzuki was exactly the spark the Nats needed.
Despite hitting just .267, Suzuki seemed to hit 1.000 when it mattered most. His 5 home runs and 25 RBIs hardly do the season he had justice, and his defense and game-calling skills absolutely shined post-trade. Suzuki is signed through 2013, with an $8.5-million ($650k buyout) club option for 2014, so with a strong season, he could potentially see a contract extension thrown his way.
As for 2012 Opening Day catcher Wilson Ramos, Zuckerman says that once he proves he’s 100%, “[They'll] have two great number-one catchers” (via Davey Johnson).
Ramos suffered a season-ending ACL injury on May 12 that left the Nationals catching situation in flux until the August trade in which the Nationals acquired Suzuki. Originally acquired in the Matt Capps deadline trade in 2010, Ramos had showed much promise to that point in his career, including a 2011 campaign in which he hit .267 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs – good enough for fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
Regardless of who the starter ultimately turns out to be once Ramos is healthy, a trade would seem unlikely since the Nationals probably value catching depth after all the injury troubles they faced at catcher last year. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.