The Twins appeared to swing and miss last offseason during their search to replace first base-bound Joe Mauer behind the plate.
A.J. Pierzynski turned down their two-year offer to sign with Boston. Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned down a two-year deal to sign with his home-state Miami Marlins.
Kurt Suzuki was, at least, their third option. And did they ever luck out, as he made the All-Star team while Pierzynski was released and Salty started slow. Suzuki is a hit among pitchers for his soft hands, solid game-calling skills and just for being an all-around great guy.
At the plate, he has been Kurt Clutch more than a few times, driving in runs no matter where he was slotted in the batting order.
With prospect Josmil Pinto taking more time to smooth out his rough edges than the Twins might have anticipated, Suzuki has stabilized the position.
Enjoy the one year.
Indications are that the Twins will trade Suzuki after recent discussions between them and agent Dan Lozano revealed that the sides are canyons apart. This is from a person with knowledge of those meetings.
Describing the meetings as “negotiations” would be too strong. The Twins and Lozano, who was in town during All-Star week, had two very brief encounters that got nowhere.
It’s easy to understand why the Twins would shop Suzuki. He’s had a career year, batting 50 points higher than his career average. He has a good reputation and could help a contending team looking for catching. The Orioles, missing All-Star Matt Wieters to injury, reportedly are interested. The Cardinals might have been, too, but they signed Pierzynski on Saturday.
But with the Pinto project ongoing (his catching skills and game-calling need refinement), the Twins could be back at the free-agent market next offseason looking for a catcher, and they might not make out as well after missing out on their first two targets last offseason. The in-house options aren’t great, as Eric Fryer is trying to stick as a backup and Mitchell Garver is at Class A Fort Myers.
The catching market will be thin, very thin. The top two free-agent catchers are expected to be Suzuki and Russell Martin. And, after signing with the Twins for $2.75 million this year, Suzuki will be looking to cash in. The Twins won’t have the options they had last season. They could be forced to trade for a catcher, which would require them to dip into their farm system for trade chips.
Catcher is one of the most vital spots on the field. The Twins should explore trades for Suzuki if they get something nice in return. But the hole his departure would leave would be significant.
Danny Salazar is the future of the Indians rotation, but he was sent down earlier in the season for fine-tuning. He was called up Tuesday to face the Twins and held them to one run over five innings in a game the Indians eventually won 8-2.
It wasn’t all good, as he walked three batters in the second inning, but he settled down after that. “But if you look at a 16-batter stretch, with those three walks included, he threw 10 balls to the other 13 batters. So that’s not too bad,” Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway said.
Salazar’s fastball averaged 94.9 miles an hour.
• • •