First August Waiver Trade Sends Suzuki To Nationals

The Deal
The first post-deadline waiver trade of 2012 sent Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Nationals for high Class A backstop David Freitas, a Carolina League all-star this season. Oakland also sent an undisclosed amount of money in the transaction to cover at least Suzuki’s salary this season.

July 31 came and went without Washington making a move to fortify its first-place club, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Nationals completed the first August trade—though they may not be done dealing. Any quality starting pitcher who navigates the waiver wire to the end could be a good candidate to be claimed by the Nationals. That’s because their two most effective starters, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, have never logged six months of starts, let alone the seven Washington would need to win the National League pennant.

The Athletics deemed Suzuki expendable now that they’re going with a rough platoon of rookie Derek Norris, the organization’s top catching prospect, and lefty-hitting walk machine George Kottaras, whom Oakland recently acquired in trade.

 
Athletics Acquire
David Freitas, c

Age: 23. Born: Mar 18, 1989 in Wilton, Calif.

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 225.

Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: Hawaii

Career Transactions: Selected by Nationals in 15th round of 2010 draft; signed June 10, 2010.

   

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Potomac (CAR) HiA .275 78 273 37 75 22 0 5 46 39 52 0 .377 .410

Scouts don’t seem to think Freitas is much more than organizational catching depth, but if he perseveres he might one day land one of 30 backup gigs in the big leagues. He threw out 33 percent of Carolina League basestealers using average arm strength, and his .780 OPS ranked second among league backstops (min. 200 plate appearances). Freitas will take a walk, but an utter lack of athleticism makes him one of the league’s slowest runners and translates into minimal bat speed. He can hit mistakes out of the yard to his pull side, but his best route to the top will entail a focus on defense and maintaining his on-base percentage.

 
Nationals Acquire
Kurt Suzuki, c

Age: 28. Bats: R. Contract Terms: Signed four-year, $16.25 million deal for 2010-13 seasons.

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Oakland (AL) 2012 .214 75 262 19 56 15 0 1 18 9 53 1 .246 .282
3-Year Totals

.234 340 1217 128 285 59 2 28 133 80 166 6 .291 .355
 

Remaining Commitment: Approximately $1.7 million for August and September (covered by Athletics), then $6.45 million in 2013, then $8.5 million club option for 2014 ($650,000 buyout).

Impact On Nationals Depth Chart: The only catchers to take more plate appearances than Suzuki since 2008 are Joe Mauer and Brian McCann, a fact that highlights his remarkable durability. All that squatting might have negatively affected his bat, seeing as he’s hit .255/.309/.375 (86 OPS+) in that time. The Nationals would gladly take that level of production because forced-into-regular-playing-time Jesus Flores has hit a pitiful .221/.257/.319 (56 OPS+) in 243 PAs. Washington really misses Wilson Ramos, a rookie sensation last year, who tore the ACL in his knee and is out for the year. In fact, injuries have hit Washington catchers so thoroughly that the organization has been forced to turn to both its Triple-A (Jhonatan Solano) and Double-A (Sandy Leon) catchers this season.

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