Profile of the newest Minnesota Twin: C Kurt Suzuki

It has been reported that the Minnesota Twins have Signed 30 year old C Kurt Suzuki to an 1 year $2.75 million contract plus incentives.  Suzuki, who made $6.5 million last season, will provide catching depth, allowing the Twins to pace the use of  Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann at the catcher position in a way that it is most appropriate for them.   He would also act as insurance, in case one or both of the rookies need additional work at AAA.   The Twins would need to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Suzuki, which likely means that 28 year old Eric Fryer, who was slated for this role now filled by Suzuki, will be taken off the 40-man roster and designated for assignement.

The 5'11", 200 lbs, Suzuki, who is from Hawaii, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 2nd round of the 2004 MLB June Amateur Draft from California State University Fullerton.   He flew threw the Athletics system at a pace of a level a year starting as a 20 year old in short season A Vancouver and ended up starting 2007 in AAA Sacramento.  Baseball America had him ranked as the 89th best prospect in Baseball before that season.   Mid-season 2007 he made his debut with the Athletics where he stayed until the 2012 trading deadline when he was traded to the Washington Nationals.  He returned to the Athletics, traded back by the Nationals this trading deadline, to support thens in their post-season run in 2013.

His career slash line is .253/.309/.375 (.685 OPS, 86 OPS+).  The right hand hitter seem to be consistently declining with the bat since his age 25, 2010 season when he hit .274/.313/.421 (.734 OPS, 93 OPS+) .   Last season between the Nationals and the Athletics he hit .232/.290/.337 (.627 OPS, 73 OPS+) in 94 games (316 PAs), which is what the Twins should probably be expecting from him (in fewer PAs) in 2014 and his $2.75 million one year contract reflects this.   He is a right hand hitter but hits both lefties and righties equally.

Suzuki does not walk a lot, but he does not strike out a lot either (about 8% BB rate and 10% K rate).  He makes contact, but does not have much power.  He is a good bunter and can move runners on; also suited for hit and run plays. Suzuki's defense behind the plate, his ability to block balls in the dirt, to make hard plays and to stall runners has been praised.   So has his clubhouse presence.  So has his game calling by managers and his pitchers.  He has been extremely healthy spending only 24 days in the 15-day DL in his career for an intercostal muscle strain in 2010.  Even if he might not be able to contribute with the bat as a starter, he would be an invaluable mentor for both Pinto and Herrmann.   All in all a great addition for the Twins.

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