The Twins on Monday officially announced the signing of catcher Kurt Suzuki to a one-year, $2.75 million contract. Now they will sit back and see just how much he plays in 2014.
They also made official the re-signing of righthander Mike Pelfrey to a two-year, $11 million contract.
Suzuki, 30, hit .232 with five home runs and 32 RBI in 94 games between the Nationals and Athletics last season. The Twins are looking for him to at least share duties with one of their inexperienced catchers after declaring Joe Mauer will move to first base in 2014.
Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer all spent time with the Twins in 2013. Pinto, 24, is considered their catcher of the future after he hit .342 with four homers and 12 RBI in 21 major league games. His catching skills, however, need to be honed, and Suzuki can provide some guidance on how to call games and work with pitching staffs.
“He’s going to be the type of guy who will make up a good combination with the other catchers we’ve got,” Twins GM Terry Ryan said of Suzuki. “I would say he could get the bulk of the innings, but that will be decided as we go, depending on what Fryer and Pinto and Herrmann do.
“[Suzuki’s] makeup, his background, you cannot find anyone who will say anything bad about him.”
If Pinto has a poor spring training and is deemed not ready, the Twins could look to Herrmann, who hit .204 in 57 games with four home runs and 18 RBI, or Fryer, who was 5-for-13 in six games late last season. Herrmann can play a corner outfield spot as well.
On the other hand, the Twins would have no problem with Pinto proving he can handle more of the workload. But they needed a veteran catcher, and signed Suzuki after striking out on A.J. Pierzynski, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and others.
Pelfrey returns after going 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA this year. He joins Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia as locks for the 2014 rotation.
The Twins outrighted outfielder Darin Mastroianni to Class AAA Rochester to make room on the 40-man roster. Mastroianni was limited to 30 games in 2013 because of surgery on his left ankle.