April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Angels sign veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki to a one-year deal

The Angels have found a veteran to shore up their catching cohort. They agreed Friday to bring on 14-year veteran Kurt Suzuki on a one-year, $1.5-million deal, according to the Athletic.

Suzuki, a native of Hawaii and product of Cal State Fullerton, doesn’t rank among the sport’s best defensive catchers, according to advanced statistics. But he supplies above-average offense at his position. He produced an .812 OPS over the last four seasons. Despite a reduction in power in 2020, Suzuki assembled a respectable 99 OPS+.

It’s likely that Suzuki, 37, will share time behind the plate with Max Stassi. How much time Suzuki, who hasn’t caught more than 750 innings since 2016, will get depends on Stassi’s recovery from hip surgery. Once healthy, Stassi could be counted on to take on more work. He has shown himself to be a more capable pitch framer than Suzuki over the last three seasons.

Still, Suzuki is an established and well-respected catcher who could pair easily with Stassi and Anthony Bemboom.

Suzuki comes to the Angels after two years playing for the Washington Nationals, with whom he won the World Series in 2019. He spent two seasons before that championship playing in Atlanta, where he crossed paths with first-year Angels general manager Perry Minasian.

Suzuki originally was taken in the second round of the 2004 draft by the Oakland Athletics. Since debuting in 2007, he has batted .259 with a .708 OPS in 1,512 games.

Suzuki’s new contract is minuscule compared with the two-year, $10-million deal he signed with the Nationals prior to the 2019 season. His low cost should help the Angels find a way to address their biggest need — starting pitching — before spring training.

Since taking over the team’s baseball operations in mid-November, Minasian has ticked off three of four major items on the Angels’ winter to-do list with shrewd moves. Suzuki, relievers Raisel Iglesias and Alex Claudio, and shortstop José Iglesias will make up roughly $15 million of the Angels’ projected budget. Factoring in prior commitments and the projected arbitration salaries of six players, the Angels’ luxury tax payroll is estimated at roughly $180 million. That figure would leave Minasian $14 million in wiggle room to reach the Angels’ preseason 2020 spending levels and $30 million to hit the luxury tax threshold.