Suzuki, 28, a career .254 hitter is hitting .218 this season. He is a veteran catcher who has played 708 games over six years for Oakland and is known as a good signal caller. The Athletics have the American League’s lowest team earned run average.
Manager Davey Johnson said Suzuki is “a No. 1 catcher” and will bring “veteran presence to my catching core.”
Backup catcher Sandy Leon is the likely candidate to be optioned to the minor leagues to create a roster spot for Suzuki.
Suzuki adds insurance for the Nationals not just this season but next season. Jesus Flores has been the everyday catcher since the team’s cornerstone catcher Wilson Ramos was knocked out for the rest of the season with a knee injury in May.
Flores, 27, will see less playing with the arrival of Suzuki. Flores has struggled at the plate and Johnson said “he’s not doing the things he knows he’s capable of.” He is hitting .225 with three home runs in 66 games this season but has helped lead the Nationals to the lowest team ERA in the major leagues.
In 2010, the Athletics signed Suzuki to a four-year, $16.25 million contract. He will make $6.45 million next year.
The Nationals traded one of their top 15 prospects in Freitas, a 2010 15th round draft pick from Hawaii. Freitas, a thick-bodied 23-year-old, was hitting .271/.374/.407 at Class A Potomac. His advanced offensive approach led him to a .398 on-base percentage in 1,098 career plate appearances. The Nationals loved Freitas’s makeup and his dedication to calling games.
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