Kurt Suzuki is having a career year for the Twins this year, hitting .303 with an OBP of .358. He’s always been regarded as an above average receiver and is good working with a rotation. Mostly because of his bat, he is going to the all star game for the first time in his career.
So let’s talk about Kurt Suzuki’s game. The greatest hole that you could poke in his game is that he hits for almost no power, but at the same time, the defensive role of catchers has not been valued higher than it has been this year as places like Fangraphs have done extensive research and evaluation. Like I said, Suzuki rates highly as a defensive catcher. To recap, he is consistently strong in an area that is newly valued, (and quantifiably so as recently as this year), he is having a career year in the area, offense, that he is traditionally weak in, and he is doing it all on a one year contract.
So let’s talk about that contract. He is, as I said, doing it the one time that he is under contract with the Twins. The Twins didn’t have to invest anything in him beyond the 3 million or so that they are paying him this season. They don’t have anything invested in him emotionally either, and as he is on a one year contract, it was never a given that he would be back next year either. He will be valued appropriately, because his departure won’t tug at heart strings or anger the scout who discovered him, or the farm system that developed him.
So let’s talk about that farm system. Kurt Suzuki was brought in as a bridge between Joe Mauer and Josmil Pinto. Pinto’s bat is ready, and many people insisted the only thing holding him back was the inability to get him in the lineup every day. He has some defensive deficiencies, but his bat should be able to carry over year to year, whereas Suzuki’s likely to regress. The Twins have a built in replacement, one that is preferable, even, to Suzuki in the long run. The Twins can maximize their value without affecting their future if they can find the right trade partner.
So let’s talk about that trade partner. The St. Louis Cardinals are ready to compete in the World Series again, but they just lost Yadier Molina to an injury. Molina will forever be the long term catcher in St. Louis, but because of that, there wasn’t an adequate replacement when he got injured. In order to be competitive in the post season, that’s a huge hole they need to patch, and they can do it with a rental because they will be getting Molina back again next year. St. Louis has a fairly strong farm system and having been to the world series several times recently, they can safely be said to be in win now mode. They will make the necessary moves to strengthen any weaknesses, and they have the means to do so.
Suzuki is at his most desirable, but at the same time, he is expendable. There is going to be demand for him, and there are teams with the means to buy him from the Twins. Now it’s in the front office’s hands.