WASHINGTON - The Oakland A's traded veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Washington Nationals for another catcher, prospect David Freitas, the websites for both teams reported in the last hour. The A's are including cash in the deal to pay for part of Suzuki's contract.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Suzuki will immediately become the club's starting catcher, with Jesus Flores becoming the backup.
Suzuki, 28, has dropped in production in recent years and is hitting .218 with one homer and 18 RBIs this season. He no longer was the No. 1 catcher for the A's.
He is the second Maui-born major leaguer to be traded this week, joining Shane Victorino, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers from Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Because the deal was done after Tuesday's trade deadline, Suzuki had to clear waivers before being moved. He has a four-year, $16.25 million contract, which runs through 2013 with a 2014 option.
He signed the deal in July 2010.
Suzuki, a 2001 Baldwin High School graduate, is the highest draft pick in Maui County history, going in the second round to Oakland in 2004 out of Cal State Fullerton. He has a .254 career batting average with 57 homers and 302 RBIs in six major league seasons, all with Oakland.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo scouted Suzuki in college.
"He's one of the best catch-throw defensive catchers in the game," Rizzo said on the team's website. "We feel that his upside with the bat is going to be good. He's hot right now. He hit very well in July, so we think we're getting a hot hitter that can handle the staff and a guy who's in the Gold Glove conversation each and every year he's been a Major Leaguer."
"When Mike brought it up to me that Oakland would move Suzuki, I said, 'Man, that would definitely bolster our catching corps,' " added Johnson on the website. Johnson managed Suzuki during the qualifying tournament for the 2008 Olympics.
Suzuki leads American League catchers in fielding percentage (.996), runners caught stealing (23) and caught-stealing percentage (38.3).
"He's a guy that can really, really take that rotation and get it going even better than it already is," Rizzo said. "He's caught a lot of really good staffs. He's got a great baseball IQ. He's known in the industry as a great game-caller, a great defensive guy and handler of the staff."
Freitas, 23, was hitting .271 with a .374 on-base percentage, five homers and 46 RBIs at Class A Potomac. He was a 15th-round pick in 2010.