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Article: Kurt Suzuki Signs Extension With Twins

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:37 PM

Up against the trade deadline and facing limited interest from other teams, the Minnesota Twins signed a last minute contract extension with Kurt Suzuki that will $12 million over 2015 and 2016 and includes a vesting option for 2017. One's opinion on the deal likely reflects one's opinion of Kurt Suzuki's future.

Kurt Suzuki signed with the Twins this offseason for just $2.75 million after they failed in their pursuit of more expensive free agents, including AJ Pierzysnki and John Buck, both of which have since been released by their teams. It was initially assumed he might be the backup catcher, since he had less than 300 at-bats over the last two seasons, hitting just .234 with a .614 OPS while being traded twice.But he started the season strong, showing plate discipline far better than he had shown in his career and even played in the All-Star game at Target Field. He is hitting .304 this year, nearly 50 points above his career batting average entering the season and has been repeatedly praised for his work with the pitching staff, though metrics regarding catcher framing claim he costs the team runs. The Twins had talked to him about a contract extension as the trade deadline approached, but the Twins and his representative were reportedly far apart in finding a workable number.

That apparently changed. The number that the parties settled on - 2 years and $12 million - is a more reasonable number than what had been paid for desirable catchers in the offseason, which is closer to $8-9 million per year. But we still don't know details about the vesting option for the 3rd year, which often contains guaranteed money as well. Depending on what is required for that 3rd year to vest, and how much money is guaranteed, the value of this contract could be far different than what has been reported so far.

But ultimately, one's view on this trade likely depends on whether one views Suzuki's offensive success as sustainable. Personally, I do. When a player has as many walks as strikeouts after never coming close to that in his career, it demonstrates a fundamental change in skills that seems likely to carry over from year to year. Depending on the details surrounding the 3rd year of this contract, it looks right now like a very good deal for the Twins.

Update: Mike Berardino has tweeted out that the 3rd year vests for only $6M and it is based on plate appearances. Depending on that plate appearances number, it could be virtually guaranteed or a reach, so that's an important detail. There is also still no word on whether guaranteed money is attached to turning down that 3rd year.

Update 5:46 PM: The options vests at 485 plate appearances, which would require Suzuki to play about 125 games. And there is no guaranteed money for the 3rd year. This contract continues to be more attractive to the Twins than I expected.

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#2 FlsPrpht


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:42 PM

Not convinced something has fundamentally changed.  Just waiting for the regression to his mean.

#3 Shane Wahl

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:43 PM

So a 30-year-old suddenly learns plate discipline? I don't see how any of this is going to be sustainable. He is already starting to fall, statistically. The last couple of weeks have not been great.

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#4 nicksaviking


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:46 PM

Consciously, I never liked extending him because it's not a smart move to sign guys at their peak, especially when they seem to have value to other teams that could be exploited.However $6 mil per isn't exactly an overpay.


I think my biggest issue with the move is subconcious.The players and the managerial staff have all been demanding that the team re-sign him.Very few of them have done much to demonstrate that they deserve to keep playing or managing this team, let alone having the gall to make demands.Basically, I'm mentally resistant to the idea of giving them what they want since they aren't giving us what we want. 

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#5 Mike Sixel

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:48 PM

Not a fan. There is no evidence in the outcomes produced that he's good with the staff, but there is plenty that he's bad (from his time with other organizations). That said, if they refuse to play Pinto, I guess this is the best option. 


My guess is that they will be regretting his bat a lot the next couple years (and his awful pitch framing).

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#6 Dantes929


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:52 PM

Ultimately, I think it will be buying high but even his career average wouldn't be too bad.I don't think he will be batting .300 at year end and maybe could have been extended then at a lower price but not my money. LNP 2.0 with a little better talent and a little better brain that will keep him from over swinging. Some will view that as an insult to Suzuki but it is not.

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#7 iastfan112


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:54 PM

Not a fan of the extension, the years and dollar amount are reasonable but it blocks Pinto. At some point he should be given a real chance to sink or swim at catcher and now that doesn't look to happen, and I'm certainly not sold Suzuki will have another year similar to this one. Blocking guys who might be a piece on the next good Twins team with a stopgap is a subpar move.

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#8 chopper0080


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:56 PM

It isn't a ton of money, but the idea of Suzuki as our starting catcher over the next two years is less than inspiring.Essentially Pinto is a AAA guy for playing time or our new manager will go with Pinto and we will be wasting 6 mil per year on Suzuki.


I don't see the win for the Twins with this extension.

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#9 drjim


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:57 PM

I say we hope Pinto emerges but with a very solid backup plan in place if he doesn't. Suzuki at $6 mil would be a reasonable mlb backup right? Not so much money that he absolutely has to be the starter if he starts to fall off and/or Pinto demonstrates he can be an everyday catcher.


Reasonable money, and now the Twins won't have uncertainty at the position going into next year. They have a reasonable option that would match anything on the FA market, with some possible upside in Pinto.

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#10 Brandon


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:02 PM

I like it.This is the number those who favored the extension were floating around. Also this isn't a lot of money and I don't see this as a move blocking anyone as he can easily be traded next year unless he stinks it up.But I agree that he made a fundamental change in batting.It started last year while in Oakland.

#11 LimestoneBaggy


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:02 PM

If they couldn't trade him for value, this is a fine extension contract. The dollars won't hurt them at all, and it provides a safety valve at catcher. Pinto will get time to figure out the defensive aspects, or not, and the other system catchers will have a year (maybe two to develop). Honestly, I look at this as a one-year deal with the hope he can sustain. If he doesn't, the money he's being paid wouldn't stop a cut bait move. 

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#12 luckylager


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:03 PM

At this price, I think it's a good deal. He has been solid and reliable. Even a slight drop off from his current offensive production wouldn't be the end of the world.

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#13 Badsmerf


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:10 PM

I'm not sure what there isn't to like about this. Sure, he isn't an All-Star catcher.... wait.... So he is having a career year in his mid 30's... wait... he is only 30. Pinto is an alright prospect, but even close to elite. 


Can't really fault the Twins for this move. 

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#14 Mike Sixel

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:12 PM

At this price, I think it's a good deal. He has been solid and reliable. Even a slight drop off from his current offensive production wouldn't be the end of the world.


he's had a great year, but did you look at 2013 and 2012? Those aren't slight drop offs. I hope he keeps it up, he's already done it longer than I expected. But to ignore the predictive ability of the previous two years, and his age (as a catcher), well, that seems like it would be pretty darn lucky for the unluckiest team in all of baseball.

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#15 Danchat


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:27 PM

$6M a year is fair. I love the part about the 2017 option only being based on PAs.


However, something inside me tells me this move is not OK. We should be rebuilding, but we're not. We're continuing to play aging veterans which includes Suzuki, who will probably fall to a .250 batting average eventually. They aren't giving Pinto enough opportunities. You guys have already seen my frustration about May and Meyer.I really, really want to see Pinto play. And he could work at DH, but the problem is, that's Vargas's spot for now, and maybe next year Sano will get some DHing, and we'll also probably bring in an old veteran to play DH (a la Kubel/Willingham this year). There isn't room for Pinto. And that ticks me off because 2014 is about finding out what our minor leagues have in store for us instead of filling spots with old players. I have nothing against Suzuki, and I think his defensive capabilities and durability will make the deal a fair one. I just worry that eventually he'll be another black hole in this lineup, just like almost every other batter on this team.

Edited by Danchat, 31 July 2014 - 03:29 PM.

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#16 JB_Iowa


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:29 PM

Beats me ... lots of pros and cons.


Interested to see what happens from here on out.

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#17 The Greatest Poster Alive

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:42 PM

I'd imagine the market wasn't very hot for Suzuki.  This seems like a good player to hold.  I liked hearing from Anderson that Suzuki is very comitted to film study and helps the pitchers understand the matchups better.


And at 2 yrs 12 million it's not the end of the world if it turns out to be a bust.  The roster has been very cheap for the Pohlad's recently, they can afford a mistake here.  

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#18 Tcrose3636



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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:43 PM

Like this a lot considering they don't have a decent other all-around-option (offense & defensive). Money should not be an issue with minor league options coming up next year on minimum salary contracts. I don't think they will be very active in FA in the off-season either due to blocking young talent, so they won't be spending there.


I like this deal.

#19 Monkeypaws


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:45 PM

I guess I'll withhold my final approval once the details of year 3 are made available.


Still, I think it is better to keep him in a reasonable deal than to trade him for rubbish, or let him walk for nothing.


Everybody is so sure he is gonna crash, but maybe he won't.


Stat nerds can fret about his framing, but I put more weight in the opinion of the pitchers who love to throw to him and wanted to keep him,

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#20 clutterheart


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Posted 31 July 2014 - 03:55 PM

Why do the National Guys report on these deals before the local reporters?  I suppose it comes from his agent, but you would think the FO would send the local guys a bone now and then.


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