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kurt suzuki oakWhen the Cubs traded for catcher George Kottaras earlier this offseason, it seemed like they were done bringing in MLB-level catchers on big league deals. Kottaras could ably backup Welington Castillo, and the Cubs could set about accumulating emergency depth at AAA, where the system is incredibly thin in the catching ranks.

But Mark Feinsand reports that, despite the two catchers already present, the Cubs are interested in catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Patrick Mooney actually reported the Cubs’ interest in Suzuki back in November, at a time when he seemed like a back-up option, rather than a third option. Here’s what I wrote about Suzuki at the time:

In that vein, Patrick Mooney reports that the Cubs are looking at veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki. The 30-year-old is a free agent after spending the last two years splitting time between the Nationals and A’s. Never a big stick, Suzuki was once an above-average offensive catcher, but those days seem to be far behind him with back-to-back sub-75 OPS+ seasons. Worse, he hasn’t seen his OBP over .300 since 2011 (and, even then, it was just .301, with a .303 mark the year before).

But you aren’t getting Suzuki for his bat, as is the case with most back-up catchers. He’s considered a quality defender behind the plate, and a good presence both with the pitching staff and younger players. At a minimal price, there would be nothing wrong with bringing Suzuki into the fold. Welington Castillo had minor knee surgery following the season, so maybe there’s all the more reason to make sure there’s a quality back-up in place.

That’s all still true, of course, but it calls into question whether Suzuki is somehow unable to find a big league deal, or – less likely – if the Cubs are considering carrying three catchers on the roster. Even less likely still is the possibility that the Cubs would sign Suzuki to back-up Kottaras in the event of a Castillo trade. I tend to think the Cubs are probably keeping in contact with Suzuki in case he can’t find a big league deal.

To the extent Suzuki is considering a minor league deal, then surely he makes a ton of sense. As things stand, the Cubs have just Castillo and Kottaras as legitimate options behind the plate, with guys like Eli Whiteside, John Baker, and Charles Cutler – none of whom would make you feel particularly confident as a fill-in starter. Having Suzuki as depth at AAA? That’s about as good as a third catching option gets, even if the bat is very light.

  • jeff feichtl

    Should’ve signed him before Kottaras in the 1st place.

    • bbmoney

      Besides the issue of him providing approximately half the value of Kottaras in more than twice as many PA’s over the course of the last two years, I completely agree.

    • J.F. Edwards

      I think the Cubs are asking Suzuki to be the 3rd C, working mostly at AAA mentoring the kids while providing emergency depth. Also could be transitioning him to a coaching role? Just spit balling here, trying to wonder why it could make sense for both sides. Potential playing time for him plus depth/leadership qualities for Cubs?

  • Darth Ivy

    Seems like almost every catch out there has had one or two good / above average seasons that keeps him in the league (even as a back up) for several seasons.. Mauer, AJ, Posey, Molina, McCann. Is that it? 5 catchers who have bats you can count on?

    • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

      Lucroy is damn fine!

      • Jono

        Lucroy has a good bat. Not very consistent yet. But he can hit nicely

    • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

      C. Santana, though not such a great catcher.

      • frank

        Better guitar player–loved Black Sabbath . . .

  • scorecardpaul

    sounds to me like this would be a great stash and flip type of signing. If a good team gets a starting catcher injured, they might feel a need to make a move?

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    More likely Suzuki winds up in Minnesota after the Twins dealt Doumit today to the Braves. Mauer has moved to first base and they need some veteran help with their young catchers.
    However, if Suzuki could also play some outfield, maybe platoon with Sweeney in LF with Lake as a full time CF option, then it would be a nice insurance move.

    • C. Steadman

      i agree with Lou, my guess is Twins

  • waffle

    v. curious

    always liked him…

  • Blackhawks1963

    If Suzuki is signed, then he will be a “1B” catcher with Castillo being the “1A” catcher. Kottaras would be in need of buying a roadmap for the greater Des Moines area.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You are mistaken.

      • Wick

        He usually is.

        • C. Steadman

          ^ hahaha

          • Jon

            When was the last time anyone actually bought a roadmap, like one of those they sell in a gas station…8-10 years ago?

            • FarmerTanColin

              They usually give you them for free. When you actually need one now its usually pretty dire. Like, “I broke my phone, wallet got stolen and somehow ended up in whatever podunk town this is.”

  • Randy

    seems like a lot of people on here have drinks with Theo at night to know what the plan is..

    • cubzfan23

      Including brett

      • miggy80

        Duh, why do you think he was in Chicago this week.

      • Jon

        He “roofied” him.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    so many flies around a pile of sh t.wish we could get another young catcher in one of these many trades that never happen! e gads merry christmas everybody. outta here.

  • EQ76

    Could he be leverage to lure Tanaka to sign with us? Maybe Suzuki’s presence behind the plate could be attractive to Tanaka?? Just a thought.

    • Dumpgobbler

      Sorry but your looking at this all wrong. I believe a Tanaka signing will help lure Suzuki here.

  • http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Suzuki-s-heritage-makes-him-a-hit-3290165.php FAZ

    Maybe he was brought in to help ease the transition of Tanaka. Kurt is of Japanese decent, however he speaks just the basics.

  • Fastball

    I think we should sign him. Last 3 or 4 years we have had catchers on the DL for extended periods of time. I think you need to have 3 capable defensive catchers who can handle pitchers. Maybe not all on the 25 man but you can’t survive without 3 and get thru 162 games. Suzuki will find a job without any problem. He ain’t no Koyie Hill just yet. Look how long that dude had a job in baseball. He left his bat in the trunk of his car.

  • Fastball

    Also if Suzuki is on our team the potential Korean and Japanese posting free agents will see his name and think they might have someone to talk too on the bench. Just saying…. Maybe they should do this deal before Tanaka gets posted. Nobody ever said ball players were smart.

    • Eric S

      Don’t we have Fuikawa that they can already talk to? I don’t think the brass is looking at Suzuki as being a guy to lure in guys like Yoon, or Tanaka. Suzuki is there so we don’t end up using our emergency catcher types like Brian Lahair who haven’t caught a game since high school. Maybe signing Lahair again would make sense. After he spent last year in Japan. Maybe he’ll ease Tanaka’s worries. While we’re at it Nyjer Morgan played there too.

    • TK

      Yeah, because they’re all the same, right? All chinks know each other, right? They all speaky the same language, right? Me love you long time, right? Because they all have squinty eyes, and all look the same to you, they all flock together like flies on chit, right? Moron.

      BTW, Suzuki was BORN AND RAISED IN AMERICA !!!!!!!!! Yes, jacksmack, Hawaii is A-M-E-R-I-C-A, not Japan. He went to college in C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A. Just because his family is OF JAPANESE “DESCENT” does not mean every asian in the world wants to play with him.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Well trying to make a point by throwing out slurs is not exactly the best way to make your point don’t ya think?

        • TK

          I heard DBarn loves Chinese food . . . Oh yeah! Now every asian will want to come to Chicago, because they can relate to someone eating Chinese food.

          Ive actually been outside of my hometown . . . so THAT, to me, is how ridiculous these people sound! Its absurd, and insulting. It IS borderline, at least, racist. The superior stance that must be assumed to suggest such simple-mindedness of asian people . . . These guys dont deserve anything nicer.

          If I were Tanaka, and I happened to wander on to this site, my opinion of Chicagoans, and Cubs fans in general would be . . . What a bunch of UNEDUCATED, HOMER, IGNORANT, DUMB ASSES. I’d immediately mark Chicago as THE LAST place I’d accept an offer from . . . based on the apparent IQ levels of the fan base. Really, if this is a somewhat accurate portrayal, a representative sample of Cubs fans, why in the world would any asian want to come to Chicago? It’d be LA or bust.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Then I’d suggest you reply with more thoughtfulness and class than you are right now. This aggression will not help your case and only create more aggression. This approach helps neither side.

            • Internet Random

              “This aggression will not help your case and only create more aggression.”

              That’s the point of trolling.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Yup

      • Internet Random

        [img]http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k230/XMLCTkd76eTb/trollfight.jpg[/img]

  • nkniacc13

    most be minor trade day today

  • Pingback: 2014 SUZUKI SX4 CROSSOVER()

  • Mr. Gonzo

    I have no idea if Suzuki speaks any Asian-based languages since he is American born and raised – but if he does speak Japanese even a little bit, it is fun (for me) to wildly speculate that he could possibly be dangled as Tanaka’s personal catcher – a la Navarro/Garza. The Cubs could be trying to find every competitive advantage they can to entice Tanaka to sign, even in the margins. “We’ve got Suzuki waiting in the wings to be your personal receiver…”

  • Rodrick

    I like Suzuki, but what in the world is happening to this organization? Theo turned them into the Kansas City Royals instead of the Boston Red Sox.

  • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

    Maybe we should bring Charles Johnson out of retirement to catch Edwin Jackson!!!!!
    Seriously?

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Guys, Suzuki is from Hawaii, and played college ball in California.
    Read a neat article today about Cory Harkey, the 6’4″ 260 pound fullback for the Rams. He has been tearing it up this season, and made the Saints look like bowling pins on a run last Sunday.
    What caught my attention, is his Dad is former Cub pitcher Mike Harkey, who is now the pitching coach with the Diamondbacks. Younger Harkey said he tried pitching, but quit in 10 grade, when Dad said you might want to concentrate on that football stuff son.

  • Larry

    Would Suzuki be considered Tanaka’s battery mate?

    • TSB

      Yes, and maybe the cubs signed George Kottaras because they plan to get Eric Karros out of retirement.

  • Fastball

    and his lunch or dinner date depending on day games or night games, on the road vs at home.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Racism and stereotypes running amuk on here. Kurt Suzuki is American born and bred. Assuming he speaks Japenese and can be a recruiting tool to get Tanaka is a bit simplistic, ignorant and downright idiotic.

    If Suzuki is signed, then Kottaras is playing at Triple A where he belongs. Suzuki is a well respected veteran catcher who has won praise for his work with pitchers in Oakland and Washington. He ain’t coming here to be third string.

    • TWC

      “If Suzuki is signed, then Kottaras is playing at Triple A where he belongs.”

      Does saying it again, an hour after your first posted this nonsense, make it even more correct?

      • Noah_I

        Maybe if he says it louder, it will make it true.

        • CubbieBubba

          maybe he’ll fit right in with the rest of the aaa players on the major league team.

    • Jason P

      “Assuming he speaks Japanese and can be a recruiting tool to get Tanaka is a bit simplistic, ignorant and downright idiotic…” maybe so, but I don’t see how that’s exactly “racist”. I doubt it would be a major factor in his decision, but perhaps there would be a comfort in knowing the team has other players who speak his language (assuming Suzuki does speak Japanese). I can’t stand when people call other people racists when it’s just not there.

      • TWC

        It’s not even remotely racist.

        It is, however, 100% ignorant.

    • ssckelley

      Get your head out of the sand, Suzuki has not been productive at the plate since 2011. Kottaras has more value as a backup than Suzuki.

      His main value is if he does speak Japanese, which I have not found any evidence that says he can. Both of his parent are from Japan so you would think he was taught Japanese at an early age as it is disrespectful for Japanese to speak to each other not using their native language.

  • daveyrosello

    SIGN ALL THE CATCHERS!!!

  • Dustin S

    Even before this there has been a surprising amount of Castillo trade talk this offseason and interest in other catchers (Weiters). Not that Suziki would start, but it’s still a bit odd unless just as emergency depth or for his mentoring of younger players.

  • aaronb

    Might be a case of trying to sell high on Castillo. Similar to Darwin Barney of a couple years ago, his D-war has inexplicably over inflated his overall WAr above what any realistic value that he adds. (which is the biggest flaw of the WAR statistic in general).

    Maybe they rightly figure that they can catch somebody asleep at the wheel over a guy who has always been a fairly middling prospect?

    • andrewd

      Maybe, but his bat really picked up halfway through the year last year too. The walk rate steadily climbed throughout the year. First half splits – .266/.324/.353. Second half .288/.388/.475 with virtually identical BABIP. If that’s a sign of development and not just random variation he could become an extremely valuable piece if the defensive improvements are also real and continue. Catchers that play solid D and have a league average bat are still valuable. If the bat develops.. look out.

      • FarmerTanColin

        That SLG increase was impressive.

      • aaronb

        I have high hopes for the guy. Catchers seems to be extremely volatile commodities though. Heck Geo Soto went from a top 5 MLB Catcher to a borderline MLB’er in a season and a half.

        My hope is that he is the real deal first and foremost. However if he can land a good building block with a safer ROI. I’d certainly want the front office to explore all avenues.

  • Johnnie A

    Ya know what I think runs amok here? Overreaction from guys like Blackhawks1963. I read the site daily but don’t comment often but I think Cubs fans come here to read about the team and share thoughts about moves and possible moves. This will include analysis and speculation. When the team already has 2 catchers and is rumored to be interested in a third the group will speculate as to why. Suggesting that this is racism or stereotyping is just ridiculous. Calling it simplistic and idiotic is inflammatory.

    Blackhawks may be right that Kotaras goes to Iowa if we sign Suzuki. That is a valid insight. Why can’t people just share their opinions and drop all the hostility? Maybe there is history I’m not aware of? Anyway, that kind of stuff is the only thing i don’t like about this site.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Great. Lets give stereotypes and blatant racism a pass. I guess by the same pretzel logic that the moron brigade is applying to American born and bred Kurt Suzuki, we should fully expect Anthony Rizzo help us recruit all those Eye-Talians who play baseball.

      • ssckelley

        Show me the racism, if Suzuki does speak Japanese it is a huge asset to have as a catcher especially if the Cubs get Tanaka.

  • Jay

    Tanaka is not going to care what color, language or gender his catcher is as long as he’s getting handed a check for 100 mil. This speculation is ridiculous.

  • scorecardpaul

    Maybe they simply want a decent catcher to help our young pitchers in the minors?

    • TK

      Yu Sir, are responsible or the first intelligent thing Ive read tonight.

  • YourResidentJag

    Kathleen Richards ‏@KathORichards 19m
    Sources say Golden State Warriors owners are interested in buying the A’s and building a waterfront ballpark: http://buff.ly/18XBO6I

  • Cheese Chad

    I read an article on bleacherreport.com stating the Cardinals improvements this offseason. It was standard stuff but I found it hilarious how often the writer mentioned that not only did they improve their starting lineup but in turn they improved their bench. Now that is insight!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Most items on that site are ridiculously pathetic.

      • Cheese Chad

        Agreed. It’s bathroom material.

  • ajbubby

    any chance the cubs might pick up the 23 year old catcher the marlins designated for McGee brett he looks like he might be worth at least a look

    • commander bob

      can we stop with all the waiver wire pickups.

      • Carew

        every team does it

        • FarmerTanColin

          He must have been content with instead signing hasbeens for millions to do the same job that a DFA would do at a less cost.

          Remember Xavier Nady – 3.3 Million, John Grabow – 2.7 million, Aaron Miles 2.2, Luis Vizcaino 3.5, Henry Blanco 3.2, Bob Howry 4.5, Scott Eyre 3.8.

          These are the guys the previous administration was spending money on. Can you tell me that Hoyer and the waiver wire has found less value than spending the millions these guys made? Creating sustained payroll flexability with the ability to spend and buy a 20ish million a year a player is about replacing these backups making 2-4 million with backups that make 500k. So yes keep the waiver wire hot.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Can we stop stomping our feet in a toddler fit every time we do exactly what every team in baseball does regularly, or do you enjoy being THAT guy?

        • Chef Brian

          He really, really enjoys being that guy.

        • DarthHater

          The Pirates today agreed to terms with 1B Travis Ishikawa; OF/INF Michael Martinez; LHPs Brandon Mann, Daniel Schlereth and Adam Wilk; and RHPs Kyle McPherson and Elvin Ramirez on minor league contracts. They had better start printing their Series tickets.

          • AB

            Commander Boob

          • FarmerTanColin

            My trade sense is tingling. Wasn’t Schlereth part of a big trade or big prospect somewhat recently?

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