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  • Twins Sign Catcher Kurt Suzuki

    The Twins have filled their backup catcher vacancy. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, they have reached agreement on a one-year deal with veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki. The signing addresses the last obvious need on the roster, although Terry Ryan will likely continue to monitor potential upgrades over the coming weeks.

    Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but Suzuki is not expected to earn a large salary. He has struggled at the plate over the past four seasons, hitting just .237/.294/.357 while spending time with the Athletics and Nationals.
    Suzuki might have a chance to compete for a starting job in spring training, but given his lack of offensive production in recent years, the Twins are probably hoping that Josmil Pinto will be able to establish himself, allowing the new acquisition to serve in a part-time role.

    Although he is generally considered a strong defender, Suzuki really struggled to control the run game this past season, catching just eight base-stealers on 65 attempts (12 percent) in 93 games. That's a concern, since defensive aptitude will be the most important thing for him to bring to the table.

    Suzuki, 30, is a Hawaii native who played college ball at Cal State Fullerton. He was a second-round draft choice of the A's in 2004. Expect more analysis of the signing here at Twins Daily over the weekend.
    Comments 94 Comments
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      I don't get the love for Stephen Drew. He's nothing special, he's likely only a tier above Florimon. The money is best spent elsewhere or not at all.

      Save it for next season offseason. There are a lot of high upside pitchers that could make it to free agency. Some probably will get extensions but I think we should wait it out and see.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Nice signing, nothing exciting.

      I agree with Cmathewson regarding offensive upgrades. I don't think there was anyone out there that really fit our team this year. Salty might have been a nice grab for the price but not concerned about it. That's where the strength lies in our farm system/young guys. I would expect improvements from Plouffe, Hicks, Arcia, Willingham, and Mauer this coming year. I could see Dozier regressing but not too much. He probably wont' hit as good as he did the last few months but won't his as bad as he did the first few months. I figure he should be good for a similar total production to last year. Florimon is florimon, great defense, don't expect anything offensively. Pinto won't be as good as he was last year but should still provide solid offense.

      Then we have our guys like Sano and Buxton on the way up by the end of the year or early 2015. Given our continued payroll flexibility we will have the money to add pieces come 2015 and our needs will hopefully be more clear with prospects having another year to develop and guys like Arcia, Pinto, Hicks, Dozier all getting an additional year to show if they can handle it in the majors or not.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      I dont see how he can really bring much more to the table than what Herrmann or Fryer would bring. Seems the money couldve been spent elsewhere. Now who gets removed from 40 man to make room for someone who doesnt bring much more than what we have?
      First of all, catching depth is a problem in the organization. So this helps them add depth by allowing Fryer to start the year in AAA. Hermann is a decent player, but, as a converted outfielder, he's only caught part time for four years in his entire career. So he isn't even an option as the primary back-up. Maybe as a bench bat/third catcher. No GM in his right mind would try to have two rookies catching on the same team.

      Secondly, they needed to add a veteran presence for young Mr. Pinto. Suzuki knows the hitters in this league. He can help Pinto run the scouting meetings and handle the pitching staff. A lot goes on in the catching position that we don't see and it's some of the most important stuff to preventing runs from scoring.

      Bottom line, he was the best catcher left, after they failed to sign Pierzinski, much better than Buck, all things considered.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      Seems the money couldve been spent elsewhere.
      Suzuki's contract is under $3M. If you had a whole team of Suzukis your ML payroll would be less than $75M, not even close to the ML average payroll. And the Twins indeed aren't anywhere close to ML average payroll at the moment. And that contract is for one year. Basically, although most years money is a constraint for the Twins front office, this off-season at this time it is not. Signing Suzuki has no effect on the money the Twins can offer another FA.

      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      Now who gets removed from 40 man to make room
      Fryer.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      The last two years, Suzuki has been basically the equivalent of Jose Molina with the bat. (With his modest ability to take a walk, Fryer might be in that range too.) Molina signed for 2 years at a lower AAV (2/4.5). Will be interesting to see how their defense/framing compares.
      Molina is an elite framer and thrower, Suzuki is good at fielding his position and blocking pitches -- both are well regarded, but in kind of opposite ways. I do think Suzuki has a better chance to put up better offensive numbers than Molina though.

      Suzuki has been better against his same-handed righties than lefties over his career. I would hope to see Pinto start vs every lefty and Suzuki vs a fair share of righties.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      " The signing addresses the last obvious need on the roster,...."

      So we lose Morneau and Doumit (I nearly forgot Clete), sign Kubel and Suzuki to fill that void.

      Do these moves really do much to improve our bad offense from last year?
      I agree that right now the offense isn't looking much better than last season unless we get development from some players Hard to complain about the signing at this point, though, as they needed to address pitching first and this fills a need.

      I'd still like to see them upgrade an OF position and move the Hammer to DH, but I haven't kept track of what's out there.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Bonus in signing Suzuki: He has proven to be very tradable over the last two years. Not that the Twins should do so, but it's nice to have that option.
      Not really. He was traded from OAK-WAS, then back from WAS-OAK. And those two teams have been trading with each other like gangbusters in recent years. They were also both August waiver trade salary dumps for what looks like minor league filler.
    1. deanlambrecht's Avatar
      deanlambrecht -
      Quote Originally Posted by halfchest View Post
      Nice signing, nothing exciting.

      I agree with Cmathewson regarding offensive upgrades. I don't think there was anyone out there that really fit our team this year. Salty might have been a nice grab for the price but not concerned about it. That's where the strength lies in our farm system/young guys. I would expect improvements from Plouffe, Hicks, Arcia, Willingham, and Mauer this coming year. I could see Dozier regressing but not too much. He probably wont' hit as good as he did the last few months but won't his as bad as he did the first few months. I figure he should be good for a similar total production to last year. Florimon is florimon, great defense, don't expect anything offensively. Pinto won't be as good as he was last year but should still provide solid offense.

      Then we have our guys like Sano and Buxton on the way up by the end of the year or early 2015. Given our continued payroll flexibility we will have the money to add pieces come 2015 and our needs will hopefully be more clear with prospects having another year to develop and guys like Arcia, Pinto, Hicks, Dozier all getting an additional year to show if they can handle it in the majors or not.
      Nice summary. I think this is about right. The only bit with which I disagree is that I do not expect any improvement from Plouffe. I hope I'm wrong, but I think we've seen about what we can expect from him. We'll just wait for Sano to make him entirely expendable.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by ppearson50 View Post
      See you at Rochester Eric Fryer. I would assume he would be taken off the 40 man. Should clear. He hasn't hit for much in minors or his tiny bit oftime in the majors.
      2011-13, Fryer's OPS in AAA was approximately the same as Suzuki's in the Show. Just a shorthand number for comparison, but it seems to me the talent difference on offense is marked, and I have no way to say Fryer's defense would be better (enough) to outweigh that.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      So, they deal Doumit, sign a guy that fits better, and get a AA / AAA pitcher that was well regarded two years ago. That's a nice couple of days, imo.
    1. yrocks2001's Avatar
      yrocks2001 -
      Nobody needs to be removed from the 40 Man Roster. Doumit was removed when he was traded and Gilmartin was not added to the Roster and likely won't be unless he proves his worth at AAA.
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      Quote Originally Posted by yrocks2001 View Post
      Nobody needs to be removed from the 40 Man Roster. Doumit was removed when he was traded and Gilmartin was not added to the Roster and likely won't be unless he proves his worth at AAA.
      Pelfrey was added when Doumit was traded so a spot needs to be cleared now.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      In the past few days, Ryan has turned Ryan Doumit into Sean Gilmartin and Kurt Suzuki, all while saving around $750k (not that any of us should care one bit about the Twins saving a million bucks right now).

      A pretty good deal all around. Lower payroll, a better defensive catcher, and a marginal LHP prospect added to the farm.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      So doesn't Suzuki return us to the point we might as well have kept Butera?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      ...and the payroll is back to April 2013. Perfect! Everybody is praising the Twins "for spending money", fixing the rotation, buying a cheap insurance policy for catcher, and clearing roster space to give yet another chance to failed "prospects"--because ya'know some just need more years in the minor leagues.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      So doesn't Suzuki return us to the point we might as well have kept Butera?
      One minute Kurt Suzuki was sitting comfortably on his couch watching some SportsCenter and surfing TwinsDaily for some news about his new team. The next, his face got redder and redder until his head exploded.

      No one knows why.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      2011-13, Fryer's OPS in AAA was approximately the same as Suzuki's in the Show. Just a shorthand number for comparison, but it seems to me the talent difference on offense is marked, and I have no way to say Fryer's defense would be better (enough) to outweigh that.
      You're probably right about Fryer, but his 2012 AAA is kind of a crazy outlier. .504 OPS? His other two AAA seasons (admittedly small samples, all) are .647 and .704, which are both better than Suzuki's .615 overall for the last two seasons. Gotta wonder if there was an injury at work in 2012 -- I get that Fryer was an older non-prospect, but every other season he's been good for at least a few walks, a few HR, and some steals. 2012, nothing.

      FWIW, the 2014 projections at Fangraphs are pretty close between Fryer and Suzuki. Obviously, Suzuki offers a lot more confidence that he can hit those projections, and Fryer has a lot more Butera-esque downside possibility.

      I had just adopted Fryer as my new favorite Twin, so I should probably recuse myself from this discussion...
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      So, they deal Doumit, sign a guy that fits better, and get a AA / AAA pitcher that was well regarded two years ago. That's a nice couple of days, imo.
      Agreed.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by drock2190 View Post
      Pelfrey was added when Doumit was traded so a spot needs to be cleared now.
      Not quite correct. Pelfrey hasn't officially signed his contract yet so he is not on the roster.

      But when both Suzuki and Pelfrey sign their contracts 1 person will need to be removed from the 40-man roster.
    1. Mike Frasier Law's Avatar
      Mike Frasier Law -
      My first thought was that Suzuki's offensive numbers couldn't be much, if any, better than our other alternatives. Then I looked at how atrocious our catchers have been offensively, aside from Mauer, Doumit, and Pinto. Suzuki is below league average, but within spitting distance (89wRC+, where 100 is league average). In comparison, from 2010 through 2013, Jose Morales was 53, Hermann was 58, and Butera was 33. Yikes. Butera's slash line over those three years: .182, .230, .263. That's right, OPS below 500.
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