The Blue Jays signing Kurt Suzuki wouldn’t create any great deal of excitement (although it would at least be some off-season news). Suzuki, however, is a reliable catcher, and someone who might be better used as a back-up and mentor to a younger catcher.
A career .253 hitter, Suzuki saw his batting average drop from the previous season by over 30 points to an ugly .232 in 2013. It’s interesting to note that Suzuki began a hitting slump after a disruption in the Nationals’ platoon system with the injury of Wilson Ramos. Thrust into the role of an everyday catcher, Suzuki’s production dropped significantly. With Ramos returning in July, Suzuki still only hit for .171 for the month, with plenty of days off. He did eventually manage to get back into his usual form for the rest of the season, and he hit .303 for his last 15 games, following his trade back to Oakland. Still, at age 30 Suzuki has lost all of his power, and has not hit double-digit home runs since 2011.
Defensively, Suzuki does not pose any liabilities. He’s solid, doing well to block balls in the dirt. Given the effectiveness of the staffs he’s worked with in Oakland and Washington, it’s difficult to question any of his game-calling.
Everything written about Kurt Suzuki indicates he has a positive attitude and a great work ethic. He’s said to be the first one at the stadium, working alone before everyone else arrives. Some have indicated that he would work well with young catchers due to his terrific leadership. Suzuki might provide useful to the Jays in this respect.
Gio Gonazelez, a teammate of his for both the Athletics and Nationals, had nothing but great words to say about him. “He’s a leader, man. If there’s a captain of the rotation, it’s always ’Zuk.’”
The A’s declined the $8.5 million option for Suzuki. With the significant drop in Suzuki’s batting average last season he seems likely to sign a one-year deal for about five million somewhere.
Suzuki may find a spot on the Jays’ roster should other options become too expensive. Since Alex Anthopoulos indicated that J.P. Arencibia as a backup isn’t something they have considered, there’s the outside chance of the Jays making a cheap signing for Suzuki and having him split duty with Arencibia or another catcher. In the event of it happening, it may be beneficial to both players.
With all the needs to be addressed this offseason, there is a good chance that one or more of these just can’t be done due to various constraints, financial or otherwise. Suzuki could end up a Jay for this very reason.