After trading his three All-Star pitchers Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, and Gio Gonzalez, A’s general manager Billy Beane could also end up trading the guy who helped in the development of those pitchers. Kurt Suzuki, the A’s solid backstop for the past five seasons, could find himself playing for another team at some point next season.
According to a recent rumor from Buster Olney, the A’s catcher could be dealt before next season’s trade deadline. Olney might not be in the wrong when saying that Oakland could move on from Suzuki sometime next season. Trading Suzuki, 28, makes sense since the A’s are trying to go younger by the minute. Suzuki took over in 2007 after the team parted ways with Jason Kendall, but given the team’s recent push towards another rebuild, Suzuki could find himself in the same situation Kendall was in four years ago.
Oakland isn’t actively shopping Suzuki, but as we get further into the season, I’m sure they’ll listen in to any offers regarding Suzuki’s services. The team recently scored catching prospect Derek Norris in the Gio Gonzalez trade and have Max Stassi getting himself ready in the minors as potential successors to Suzuki. Would the A’s really trade Suzuki, though? Yes. Yes, they probably would. Never underestimate Billy Beane, who seemingly likes tearing apart his young core of players. Suzuki’s days in Oakland are likely numbered.
While Suzuki isn’t really old, he’s too old for Oakland. Plus, his numbers have been on a steady decline from his explosive (to Oakland’s standards) 2009 season. He hit .274/.313/.421 slash line with 15 HR and a team leading 88 RBIs in ’09, but has managed to hit just .240/.302/.375 with 27 HR and 117 RBIs over the last two seasons combined.
He posted a 2.9 WAR in ’09 according to BaseballReference.com, but posted 1.7 WAR this past season. Offensively, these past two seasons haven’t been good for Suzuki fans.
Aside from his offensive slide, his ability to throw out base-runners took a pounding this past year as well. The one thing he did have success with, however, was his solid handling of Oakland’s young pitchers. The A’s once again performed well in the pitching department this past year, posting the 10th best ERA (3.71) in the majors. Suzuki, who helped in the development of Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, is a valuable asset in the sense that he knows how to handle a young pitching staff.
Still, given Oakland’s commitment to the second “youth-movement,” I’m not entirely sure Suzuki will be the guy handling the pitching staff next year after July 31st. That role could potentially go to Norris, who was regarded as a top catching prospect at one time. Norris, 22, may not boast a high batting average, but he does bring the A’s some source of power. He belted 20 home runs this past year with Washington’s Double-A affiliate. Norris is a pretty good prospect for the A’s and should see some action this spring. He could be the guy Oakland decides to groom as Suzuki’s successor as the team prepares to get younger. Like it or not, Kurt Suzuki could find himself out of Oakland’s plans this upcoming season.