On Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Twins moved Ryan Doumit to the Atlanta Braves in a trade that helped bring in another soft throwing lefty who prides himself on accuracy and throwing strikes. With Doumit out of the picture for catching in 2014, this move breaks down the doors for Chris Herrmann and Josmil Pinto to catch a majority of the games next year. However, the Twins do not want to throw all their eggs in one basket with two young and relatively inexperienced Major League catchers. They are thus, looking elsewhere to bring in a veteran catcher to help assist Pinto and Herrmann get acclimated to a starting role.
Sep 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki (22) looks to the bench for a sign in the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Kurt Suzuki, a veteran catcher with limited offensive production and below average pitch-framing skills, is one target the Twins have on their radar this December. He is only 30-years old and would have many years ahead of him if he was not already breaking down from catching so many games year after year. In 2008, he caught in 141 games. One hundred and forty-one games in a 162 game season. In 2009, he caught in 135 games. Suzuki then caught in 123 and 129 games in 2010 and 2011 respectively. He has since caught less games per season as he caught in 117 and then 93 games in 2012 and 2013. Over his career, his ability to catch day after day has been his calling card, while his offensive production is not anything we would be used to here in Minnesota. (Thanks, Joe, for unrealistic expectations!!!!)
Suzuki’s offensive slash numbers over his 7 year career are .253/.309/.375 with 67 career HR and 359 RBI. His defensive skills, which are nothing extraordinary, include a career average of catching base stealers at a rate of 26% and has been known to be a below-average pitch framer. Pitch framing is not something the Twins really concern themselves with since they had Doumit here for 2 years as a catcher. I believe Suzuki would be nice a addition to the Twins and help guide the inexperienced youngsters on the roster, but there are other teams that will be battling for his services.
In addition to Kurt Suzuki, another catcher’s name that has been brought up is John Buck, who caught last year for the New York Mets. He started off hot last year but cooled off and was traded midway through the year to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While finding another catcher is on the checklist for the Twins, there are other holes the Twins are still actively pursuing to fill and the main one is starting pitching. With how inept the starting rotation was last year, Terry Ryan and the rest of the Twins organization have not given up on finding starting pitchers to make up the rotation. Two names the Twins are still linked to are Johan Santana and Bronson Arroyo. Even after signing Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey and also adding Sean Gilmartin in the Doumit trade. It is a pleasant surprise to see how active the Twins are in the Free Agent market this year. While none of these signings or trades are of the “blockbuster” variety like a Matt Garza or Masahiro Tanaka signing would be, they are moves to help solidify at least a “respectful” starting rotation.
Be on the lookout, with how active the Twins have been, another move may happen before you know it.
In Other Twins News
Former Minnesota Twins 3rd baseman, Danny Valencia, was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Kansas City Royals in return for outfielder David Lough. Valencia, who hit well in his rookie season with the Twins, struggled in his 2nd and 3rd years in the majors and was traded to the Red Sox in 2012. Valencia hit well in 2013 when he did play for the Orioles and may now provide a backup for Mike Moustakas at 3rd in Kansas City.