Oakland's renown for frugality leaves their fellow small-market clubs in the dust. Tomes have been penned and films announced, if not yet filmed, but hey, they got Brad Pitt to play Billy Beane, that counts, right? So when they have a good young player they default to one of two options. Trade him for maximum return or sign him to a team-friendly contract. Kurt Suzuki! Come on down! According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A's have agreed on a four year deal with their starting catcher.
Terms were not immediately available, but Slusser tweeted a followup that the deal guarantees Suzuki $16.25 million through 2013 and includes a vesting option that would be worth between $9 and $10 million for 2014. Again per Slusser the option vests based on games played in 2013 and that Suzuki should not have trouble achieving the number as it is less than 120 games.
The deal is particularly well-timed for Oakland, as Suzuki would have been arbitration eligible this offseason. Based on last year's pair of catchers who were in their first year and exchanged figures with their clubs of arbitration eligibility Suzuki could have expected at least $2 million. Jeff Mathis took the Angels to a hearing and won to claim a $1.3 million salary for 2010. Carlos Ruiz and the Phillies settled prior to a hearing on a three-year deal that guaranteed him $8.85 million and paid him $1.7 million this season.
Both catchers illustrate the concern with long term deals for catchers as both have had stints on the disabled list. Suzuki also spent three weeks at the end of April into the middle of May on the DL. Even witht he trip to the DL, Suzuki is enjoying a fine season His batting line on the year is .257/.316/.408 in 68 games. His ten home runs put him on pace to eclipse his career best 15, which he hit last season.
This deal supersedes the contract that the A's renewed with Suzuki in March of this year. That pact had been paying him $420,000 this season. The club bought out Suzuki's three years of arbitration eligibility and with the low threshold for the option year to vest will likely also buy out the first season he could have been a free agent.
For his career, Suzuki has hit .269/.327/.400, but as he is demonstrating this season, his power is beginning to develop into a stronger attribute. He's probably the most popular player on the club. The deal locks up a popular young player at a reasonable price, which means the Price was most definitely right for everyone.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
Follow Joe Tetreault on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook